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A Death in the Family

Chapter Text

The call that changed everything came at 5:32 PM on a Thursday. Sherlock and John had just wrapped up a particularly exhausting case. The suspect in question had led them on a chase around the city that had worn John down to a panting jog. Even Sherlock, who very rarely succumbed to any signs of physical work on the body, was clearly tired as he lay sprawled across the couch, holding his phone close to his face. John was working on his blog post for the case when he received a phone call from Harriet.

He'd answered expecting the same mundane update about his sister's life that he received on a regular basis. She'd always seemed to want to keep him informed, even if it was simply so that she would have someone to rant to about her problems. Instead, John was met with blinding grief and a pounding headache. He stood from his chair and hurried into the bathroom, desperate to find a place where Sherlock wouldn't pick apart his every move.

He felt sick, literally empty, and yet his stomach threatened to empty its contents. He knelt over the toilet, struggling to breathe and fighting the tears that had sprung into his eyes. His legs threatened to buckle underneath him and he fell to a kneeling position. Guilt flooded into him in a wave. It had been months, nearly a year even, since he'd spoken to his father and now he would never have the chance again.

They had been so alike, exactly the same person, many said. John always was the spitting image of his father. With age they had only grown to look more alike. They had clashed constantly, as two similar people often do, but over time they had finally reached a sense of respect for one another. It wasn't closeness by any means, and it wasn't warmth, but it was respect nonetheless.

A heart attack had taken him. According to Harry it was instant, so sudden that his poor mother hadn't even reacted until after he was already gone. Roger Watson had been as healthy as a horse. Every doctor he'd ever seen had told him so. He was active, always wandering about in his small garden and taking frequent walks. John rarely visited his parents, but when he had his father had always forced him to join in on adventures across the property. As healthy as a horse, yet a damned heart attack had gotten him without any warning whatsoever.

John raised his hand to his forehead and wished that he could dull the pounding in his head with a simple touch. The funeral was to be held on Saturday. John would leave straight away, tomorrow morning even. His mother would be broken. She would be shattered into a million tiny pieces. She would need him.

His mind raced back to the man in the living room. Sherlock. He would have to tell Sherlock. He would tell Sherlock, pack his things, and go. Sherlock. Pack. Go. Sherlock. Pack. Go.

He had reached a numb state. He couldn't feel anything. His mind played the same words over and over again. Tell Sherlock. Time to tell Sherlock.

He stumbled out of the bathroom, clutching to the wall of the hallway for support as his leg again threatened to send him crashing to the ground. In his head or not, his leg was acting up and he needed the support.

When he'd finally worked his way into the living room he found Sherlock standing, eyes wide, staring at him with a blank expression. "Something's happened," he mused, his forehead crinkling slightly as he looked John over.

Sherlock took a step towards John and gave him a quick sweeping look. "You've been crying…" he said, his eyes filled with what John, if he didn't know better, would have pegged as raw compassion. Sherlock stared at John's red-rimmed eyes as if the idea that the doctor could shed a tear was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever imagined.

John took a deep breath and broke Sherlock's gaze. Sherlock continued speaking, his words flowing out quickly, like his violin would on so many dark nights. Now, instead of the sounds of strings, a deep, melody of information filled John's ears.

"You've been crying. You don't cry. You never cry. You're favoring your leg, greatly favoring it, in fact. The tremor," He stopped speaking abruptly and reached to John's side to pull his hand into better visibility. John ignored the warmth and softness of Sherlock's hand. His tremor had returned, but in Sherlock's hand, it nearly disappeared. He ignored all of that. It was a physical response. A touch could be soothing. It was simply a fact.

Sherlock caught his eye for a moment and seemed to recognize that internally John was having some small struggle. He ran his thumb once more over John's hand before letting it fall gently back to his side. "Your tremor is flaring up." He glanced down at John's legs. "You've knelt, or fallen; knelt, most likely, due to your leg, in the bathroom. Must've been in front of the toilet. An emotional response. You show no signs of any sickness. No external symptoms. You haven't mentioned internal discomfort or acted in any way unusual. You answered the phone without thought, rolling your eyes. You expected it to be routine. Routine. Had to be Harriet then. Crying… You've been crying. Someone's died. Someone close. Likely a parent based on…"

"Alright, Sherlock. Enough." John couldn't listen to his calculated words any longer. John knew that Sherlock understood exactly what had happened. He'd likely known from the very beginning. John wasn't in the mood to be impressed by Sherlock's skills of deduction.

"My father," he said with a sigh. "My dad died. He, uh… a heart attack." Saying the words aloud made everything feel final and John willed himself not to crack in front of Sherlock both for his own good and the good of his friend. Sherlock surely wouldn't know how to handle this sort of emotion.

Sherlock's expression softened noticeably. "I am sorry, John." Sherlock said softly, stepping away from John and reaching for his phone on the table.

"Yeah, er," John ran a hand over his upper lip and watched as Sherlock began texting on his phone. "I'm going to have to leave tomorrow, Sherlock."

"For the funeral. Obviously," Sherlock said cooly.

John gave a curt nod of his head.

"Of course. We should begin packing then." Suddenly Sherlock was up and walking past John towards his bedroom.

John whirled around to call after him. "We?" he asked. Sherlock stopped and turned back to face John.

"Of course I'll be going with you," Sherlock deadpanned, as if no other idea had ever crossed his mind. "I've just texted Mycroft about getting us a ride. The car will be here tomorrow morning."

John's mouth fell open in shock before he could help it. "Listen, you don't need to do that. Sherlock, I would never expect you to…" John sighed, searching for words. Sherlock had thrown him out of the expected conversation. This was unknown territory. "I know this isn't your kind of thing. And I won't be cross with you at all if you stay here."

Sherlock cocked his head slightly to the side. "If you don't want me to go, you need only say so."

"Sherlock. No. That's not…" John fumbled over his words, trying to find a way to properly explain himself. "It's just there will be emotions and social niceties and it's just not your thing, is all. And you never even met my father. I don't expect anything of you."

"I've met you, John. We're friends, correct?"

"We're friends," John agreed.

"Good friends?"

"Yes, Sherlock,"

"Then I'm going with you. We live together and work together. I should know your family should an occasion ever arise that we're in need of their assistance. And I will be there for you should you need emotional support."

John, against all odds, despite how utterly terrible his evening was going, couldn't hold back a small smirk. But Sherlock's expression remained grave. He wasn't joking at all. No, of course he wasn't joking.

"My emotional support then," John said with a small nod. "Fine. Okay." He caught eye contact with Sherlock for a silent moment before they headed to their separate rooms to pack.

Chapter Text

The evening was spent hurrying around the flat, throwing articles of clothing into suitcases. John was terrified at the prospect of Sherlock accompanying him on such an affair, but he was also, oddly enough, quite relieved. The idea of having Sherlock beside him gave him a vague sense of strength. Although his father was gone, his mother would inevitably be a complete wreck, Harry would be, well Harry, and everyone would feel an unreasonable amount of pity for him, Sherlock would be there, and Sherlock was a rock, a pillar of routine that John could cling to.

It occurred to him that calling Sherlock a routine of any kind was pretty ridiculous, but that was his life now. Sherlock's rushing about and random experiments were normal for John. They were his "normal" in the most brilliant and exciting way.

When he'd finally arranged everything neatly into a case, John fell into his bed. He was utterly exhausted. It had been the longest of days and he had the feeling that Mycroft's car would arrive extremely early in the morning. He didn't want to look terrible when he saw his mother. She didn't need any more stress in her life. Sleep was important, even if he would very much prefer to drink the entire night away.

As soon as John cut off the lights and pulled the covers over his body, the sinking sense of grief returned in full. He hadn't realized just how much Sherlock's presence was serving as a distraction, but now he was all too aware.

With Sherlock the world seemed more manageable. Everything made sense and fit together and happened for some logical reason. It was easier to push the pain away and focus on the gigantic personality that was Sherlock Holmes.

Now that he was alone, John couldn't even close his eyes without images of his deceased father running through his mind. He remembered his childhood. He went over his happiest memories again and again, and tried, to no avail, to keep the bad ones out of his mind.

Finally, after hours of tossing and turning, John resigned to the fact that he simply wasn't going to get any sleep. It was too much to expect. He lay still and listened carefully for a moment, expecting to hear Sherlock moving around the flat. Instead, he was faced with silence. He'd rarely seen Sherlock sleep but, of course, he had to do it at some point.

John got up from his bed and carefully walked through the dark flat until he'd reached the living room. A lamp in the corner filled the room with a soft light. Sherlock was slouched over in his chair, asleep. A large book was open on his lap. John had the sneaking suspicion that it was one of his own medical books. It could be assumed that Sherlock had reluctantly given into his basic needs, falling asleep without even realizing it while reading the book.

The lamp cast a tentative glow over his face and softened his features. The lines on his face, which were often scrunched tightly while he was awake, now were smooth and virtually nonexistent. He looked younger, calmer. And breathtakingly beautiful.

It was so easy for him to admire Sherlock's beauty like this. Typically John would attempt to avoid any lingering looks, particularly in public. People were already talking. In fact, they were doing much more than talking. They were commenting on his blog, posting original stories, making sly comments on the streets… Hell, there was even a couple name circulating the internet. Yes, people certainly were talking.

Perhaps his brain was properly riddled with grief. Or maybe it was the way the soft light played off of Sherlock's cheekbones, but suddenly John was struck with a certain epiphany.

John didn't give a damn if people talked anymore. He'd given up correcting them already, but now, he didn't even flinch at the assumptions.

If people wanted to believe that he was good enough for Sherlock Holmes, then God, let them. Surely it was a compliment. John doubted whether Sherlock had ever committed to anyone romantically in his entire life. If people thought that John was different, special somehow, then he'd go right on letting them think it.

After a few more minutes of taking in the serenity of the room, John began to feel his eyes droop. Sherlock's presence had done as it always did. It had distracted him. His mind was clear. Instead of thoughts of his loss, he found that he simply yearned for sleep. He was ready to rest.

John rose from his seat to walk back into his bedroom but he couldn't shake the feeling that Sherlock really couldn't stay sleeping with his neck at that angle. He would wake up very uncomfortable and likely very cranky. And Sherlock in a bad mood would quickly put everyone in close proximity in a bad mood as well.

With a sigh John knelt beside Sherlock's chair. He placed a hand gently on the man's shoulder. He expected Sherlock to wake immediately, his eyes wide and inquisitive, but surprisingly he didn't react at all to the touch.

"Sherlock," John whispered, giving him a small shake.

Again Sherlock didn't react.

"Oh, come on, you." John gripped Sherlock's arm and gave it a careful, small tug. Finally he reacted. Sherlock's eyes opened slowly and he peered into John's face.

He was in the hazy state between sleeping and waking that John had never seen him in.

"Is this a dream?" Sherlock murmured, his eyes blinked rapidly, yet they stayed fixed only on John.

His stare was so hard that John found it hard to answer. "I… no. Um. No, not a dream. Come on. Let's get you to bed."

"Your bed?" Sherlock asked, his voice heavy as he stood slowly to his feet.

It hit John that Sherlock was hardly awake at all. In fact, he was more asleep than anything else. He had to be in a muddled mindset in order to seriously ask these nonsensical questions.

John tightened his grip on Sherlock's arm as the man swayed on his feet. "No," He paused, scrunching his nose as he tried to make sense of the situation. Maybe he could bring Sherlock into his bed. Just to sleep. Just for company. As friends. Only as friends.

John shook his head to himself and tried to clear his thoughts. Clearly his mind was soft with sleep as well. "Your bed, Sherlock. Just like usual. Come on." He led Sherlock down the hall and into his room. Sherlock settled into the bed without question. It occurred to John that he couldn't even remember the last time he'd seen Sherlock sleep. He had to be completely, clearly exhausted.

"Goodnight then," John mumbled, taking one last look at Sherlock, whose eyes had already closed again.

"John, wait…" John turned around when he heard a deep, quiet voice. Sherlock was sitting up slowly, rubbing his forehead. The lines on his face that were always there, and so familiar, were beginning to show themselves. He was waking up.

"Tomorrow, Sherlock," John said quickly, closing the door before Sherlock could speak again.

As the door shut he could see Sherlock's eyes widen in swift realization, as if he'd made some grave mistake, or revealed some dark secret. John shook his head and ignored all of the ideas that popped into his mind. Sleep made people strange. It didn't mean anything. None of it meant anything.

Chapter Text

As John had expected, he was barely able to sleep at all. His dreams, though he couldn’t remember them all clearly, had been dark and unpleasant. He woke several times throughout the night until finally he rolled over to glance at the clock, saw that it was 6:30 in the morning, and decided that this was as good as it was going to get.

He walked into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes, and found Sherlock already moving around the counter, his back hiding whatever his eyes were fixed on. Undoubtedly he was working on some strange “project” that John wouldn’t fully approve of.

John was an early riser. He’d been trained for it; but he was nothing compared to Sherlock, whose body seemed to miraculously run fine off less sleep than any normal human would need. Then again, Sherlock was very far from normal. John wondered for a moment whether Sherlock might actually mellow out a bit if he did start getting a regular amount of sleep. He didn’t want to know. Not really. Sherlock was fine the way he was.

John took a seat at the kitchen table, not even bothering to greet Sherlock. Odds were that the man would completely ignore him anyway. He seemed rather engrossed in whatever he was fiddling with on the counter.

Because he’d already assumed that Sherlock was pickling body parts, or examining decomposing sponges, or doing something else that seemed completely ridiculous, it came as quite a shock when he found a cup of coffee sliding over the table in front of him.

John’s eyes widened at the cup for a moment. He whirled around in his chair to face Sherlock. Sherlock didn’t make coffee. He couldn’t be bothered to do something so mundane. There had to be some sort of reasonable explanation for it.

But as John focused his eyes on Sherlock, he caught a glimpse of something that made him forget completely about the coffee. Sherlock was arranging what appeared to be a large plate of pancakes on a tray. He was carefully spreading syrup (when the hell had they even gotten syrup?) over the fluffy pancakes, his attention completely zeroed in on the food.

He picked the tray up and set it carefully in front of John on the table. John stared at the food for a moment, still in a bit of shock. The pancakes looked normal. They looked delicious even. They didn’t appear to be any sort of strange experiment. But none of it made any sense.

“Did Mrs. Hudson bring these?” John asked, grasping for an explanation.

“She didn’t. Haven’t seen Mrs. Hudson this morning actually. She’s late. I do need to speak to her about having this place tidied in our absence.”

“She’s not our housekeeper,” John muttered, mostly in habit from hearing the woman repeat the words so often herself.

Sherlock ignored this comment and sat at the table across from John. “Eat,” he said, looking sharply at the pancakes. “We’ll be off soon.”

“Where did these come from, Sherlock?” John asked, pushing the pancakes around on the plate with a fork. He didn’t trust them. He didn’t trust them at all.

“I made them. Obviously.”

“Oh, come off it. How was that obvious? You never cook anything. You never even make coffee! This is all…” John glanced around, taking everything in for a moment before settling back in the chair with a sigh and cutting a bite from one of the pancakes.

He held the piece of pancake up to his mouth and looked pointedly at Sherlock. “Did you drug this?”

“No.”

“Cook it with weird ingredients?”

“No.”

“Has anything dead touched it?”

“John,” Sherlock looked sternly at the food on John’s fork.

John shot Sherlock one last meaningful look before placing the pancake in his mouth. It was fine. All fine. Perfect really.

“God, it’s great,” he muttered, more to himself than to Sherlock.

“Thank you, John. I’m not surprised, of course. Cooking is simple. It’s like science in a way. Every recipe is a child’s experiment. Follow the directions correctly, get the results correctly.”

John couldn’t help but feel that this was directed somehow at him. He had burned his fair share of meals in the flat. Cooking wasn’t something that he did on a regular basis, but since living with Sherlock, it had become routine.

“If cooking is so ‘simple’, why can’t you ever cook?” he asked, taking another bite from the pancakes.

“Dull,” Sherlock said shortly.

“Of course,” John said, shaking his head. Yes. He really should have figured as much. But there was one aspect of the situation that still didn’t make sense. “Sherlock…”

“Hm?”

“Why did you suddenly decide to cook… today?”

Sherlock’s eyes flickered to the plate of food in front of John. For a moment John could have sworn he saw the slightest flush of red grace Sherlock’s cheeks. He understood in an instant. The shock of breakfast cooked by Sherlock Holmes had nearly made him forget but a moment of silence was enough to remind him. His dad was gone. His dad was gone and Sherlock was trying to make him feel better. Which was… odd and very not Sherlock.

John couldn’t help but shake his head. His eyes remained fixed on the plate of food as he spoke. “You don’t have to do this, alright?”

“Do what?” Sherlock said, his voice several octaves too high for him to really be confused at all.

“Sherlock…” John looked up to catch his eyes. “I’m fine.”

“Yes, yes. I know. Hurry and eat. The car will be here at 7.” Sherlock brushed away John’s words with a flick of the wrist. He was up and out of the room before John could say another word.

John sighed and finished his food. By the time he’d finished, Sherlock was standing by the door, hurrying him out. John barely had time to grab his things before following Sherlock out.

The car that Mycroft had provided was, to say the least, flashy. It was a large black SUV, complete with a driver and a pull-down divider between the front and back seats, that obviously only carried very important people. Mycroft stood beside the car, his hands folded in front of him.

Sherlock took one look at the car and glared at his brother. “I asked for something inconspicuous,” he hissed.

Mycroft looked down his nose at Sherlock, a smug look donning his face. “This is as inconspicuous as it gets,”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes once more and pushed past Mycroft, sliding into the car and slamming the door in a petulant fashion.

John was left standing in awkward silence beside Mycroft. “He made pancakes this morning,” John said, hoping Mycroft could make the situation make more sense that it did.

Mycroft glanced at Sherlock for a moment, pursing his lips in thought.

“I think he was trying to make me feel better. But that’s weird, right? Sherlock.... he doesn’t do that. Ever. It’s definitely not how he usually reacts to things,” John said, breaking the silence.

“But he’s never treated you normally, has he? Not the way he treats everyone else…” Mycroft gave John a knowing look which John chose to ignore completely. “He did take our father’s death quite hard. This is something he can relate to, if you can believe it. It was cancer. Quite sudden.”

John felt a wave of surprise rush over him. He had never really considered the fact that Sherlock had parents at all. He’d taken his existence for granted. It was difficult to fathom that anyone had raised Sherlock.

“I, uh… Sorry,” he said quietly. Mycroft only shrugged and stepped aside, gesturing towards the car slightly.

“I do apologize for your loss, John. Don’t let my brother rattle your family too terribly. He always did do surprisingly well at solemn events though. He spent a lot of time in graveyards as a child.”

John started to question this but a quick look through the car window told him that Sherlock was growing impatient. Besides, Sherlock had done so many strange things, spending a large amount of time in graveyards actually seemed quite sane.

“Thanks for the car,” John muttered to Mycroft as he slid into the seat of the car beside Sherlock.

“Have a lovely chat?” Sherlock asked, a sneer playing on his face.

“Lovely? With Mycroft involved?” John asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Quite right,” Sherlock said with a small smile.

Chapter Text

John had grown up in a small town, two hours outside of London. It was far enough from the city to be considered agricultural land. The low hills were covered in bright green grass and houses were all considerably far from each other. John’s parents had never left the house that he’d been raised in.

John’s father had loved the land. John had, as a child, shared his love for the peaceful, quiet country, but war had changed him in many ways. Now he needed the bustle of the city. It wasn’t enough to sit on a front porch and watch the sunset at the end of the day. He needed a bit of danger, a bit of excitement.

The car ride was mainly quiet, with Sherlock only speaking to make observations about the various sights that they passed. Sometimes John would answer him and they would talk for a while before settling in to stare out the windows wordlessly again. Sometimes John would just nod his head in response to Sherlock’s information.

Despite being a longer ride than they were used to taking in the car, the time passed quickly and soon enough the car had stopped in front of John’s old house.

It was large, two stories, but not new. It had an aged, lived-in look. It was comfortable, with a red door and rolling hills surrounding it. Sherlock took one look and began rambling off dates and facts about its time of establishment and period design.

He was right on point, as usual, but John couldn’t bring himself to really pay attention. Sherlock’s voice faded into the background as memories of his childhood danced before his eyes. After the rushing flood of memories slowed, John stepped out of the car. He’d had a lovely childhood here, but the thought that his father wouldn’t be inside to greet him left him with a bitter taste in his mouth.

“Home sweet home,” he mumbled as he approached the steps with Sherlock on his heels.

John gave the door a hesitant knock. He waited for a moment, trying to control his shaking hands. He was afraid. Afraid to be back home after so long, afraid to see the state that his mother would be in, afraid that he wouldn’t be able to control his grief once he was walking the floors that his father had walked only days earlier… A steady hand on his shoulder drew him from his thoughts. Sherlock nodded slightly at him and John understood what he meant without a single word being said.

This was his old home, after all. John pushed the door open, internally cursed his mother for never locking it, even though he had always told her to, and entered the house with Sherlock following silently behind him.

“Mum?” he called, walking slowly through the dark entryway hall. A light shone at the end of the hallway in the kitchen. John entered the room to find his mother sitting at the kitchen table, surrounded by flowers and dishes of food. She had a tissue pressed to her nose and her eyes were red as if she’d been crying for hours straight. She had, John knew.

Her eyes shone with fresh tears as she leapt out of her seat and enveloped John in a hug. “I’m so glad you’re here, John.”

John wrapped his arms around his mum and tried to remain stoic. He allowed himself to shut his eyes for only a moment and fall into her embrace. His mum soon pulled away and held his face gently in her hands, running small circles on his cheeks with her fingers.

“John, darling. You look wonderful.” Her eyes shone with tears, yet she smiled as she looked over towards Sherlock.

“You must be Sherlock,” she said, sniffling once before leaving John and turning to look Sherlock up and down.

Before John knew what was happening, she had pulled him into a tight hug as well. Karen Watson was a tiny woman, nearly a head shorter than John even. Her small figure was completely lost as, to John’s surprise, Sherlock lifted his arms to envelop her in a tight embrace. Her light hair, now almost completely grey with age, struck an obvious contrast with Sherlock’s dark coat and deep purple shirt.

John gaped at the sight. Somewhere in the back of his mind he was struck with the thought that hugging Sherlock must be a really grand experience. Sherlock seemed to pull Karen as close as possible, and he really was quite tall.

“I’m Karen Watson,” his mother said, “It’s so nice that you’re here with John. Oh, he’s told me all about you, of course. So many lovely things,” she held Sherlock around the middle tightly and mumbled into his chest, her tears leaking onto his shirt. “It’s good that he has you. John needs someone.”

Mum,” John said, taking a step towards her. She stepped out of Sherlock’s touch and wiped at the tears that had leaked from her bright blue eyes.

“It’s so good that you have each other,” she said again, her expression brightening significantly as she looked from Sherlock to John. “I always,” she sniffed, looking at the ground. “I had always hoped you’d find someone, John. Someone that would actually last,”

“We’re friends, Mum,” John said. He’d had to make this point clear to her at the end of every phone call they shared. Despite the fact that he’d told her, his own mother, over and over again that he was straight, she didn’t seem to fully believe it.

“Yes, I know,” she said. “Of course,” she paused and wrung her hands together nervously. “Well,” she said in a high voice to break the tension. “You boys must be starving!”

“A bit,” John said, thankful for a change of subject.

“John, I’ve got the guest room all tidied up. The bed is very large if…”

John gave her a sharp look and her smile widened in a less than genuine fashion. “And your old room is clean too, of course. Rather small bed though… It’s up to you. You can get settled in and I’ll make something to eat.”

“Thank you, mum,” he muttered, placing a hand warmly on her shoulder for a moment before grabbing Sherlock’s elbow and leading him back out to the car.

As soon as they’d closed the door to the house John sighed deeply. “She’s a mess,” he said, running a hand through his hair in exasperation. “I knew she would be. Sorry about the, er, hug…”

“It’s fine,” Sherlock said, his eyes clouded over in a way that John couldn’t really understand. “She looks like you,” he said, his eyes studying the lines of John’s face.

“Well, she’s my mum, right? I look like her.”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed. He still seemed slightly dazed.

“I know the touching isn’t, ah, your thing…” John said. “I’ll tell her not to. She’s very touchy, mum is. She’s always been that way. Harry’s a bit the same actually. Have to have a word with her, too.” John pressed his lips tightly together in an effort to stop his own rambling.

“John,” Sherlock said, his voice low. “I don’t mind. The touching. Not a problem. It’s a common emotional sign. A way to deal with grief. It’s okay.”

John stared into Sherlock’s eyes for a moment. He always seemed to surprise him at the oddest of times. He cleared his throat when he realized just how long the eye contact had taken place. “Right… The stuff,” he said, turning to pull his bag out of the car.

After retrieving their bags and sending the car away, John led Sherlock up the stairway to the guest bedroom which sat directly across from his own childhood bedroom.

“Here we are,” John said motioning around the guest bedroom. It was comfortable, and simply decorated, like the rest of the house. The walls were a light tan, and a pastel yellow bedspread covered the large bed. The giant bed, rather. It was huge.

“We?” Sherlock asked, glancing at John.

John gave a small, forced cough and tried to smile at Sherlock’s confusion. “Uh, you… Here you are. I’ll be,” he pointed out the door towards the other room. “I’ll be just over there.”

“Your mother said that bed was small,” Sherlock said, matter-of-factly.

“It is,”

“This bed is large,”

“Yes,” John ran a hand quickly over his mouth and stared at the ground as if he was watching something fascinating there.

“You’re not staying in this room as well?” Sherlock’s questions were distant, as if he truly didn’t understand what was happening. And wasn’t that the most brilliant thing about Sherlock, really? He was so intelligent, so terribly genius, yet so painfully ignorant at the same time.

“Sherlock, we’re not going to share a bed,” John said, hoping to stop the discussion entirely.

“But the other bed is small…” he said, looking at the large bed of the guest room.

“Yes, and I’m going to go put my things in there now.” John left the room before another word could be said. He shut the door to his childhood bedroom as soon as he was in. He leaned against the door for a moment, sighing deeply with his eyes shut. He opened them and immediately remembered times that had been spent in the room as a child.

He had been a strange kid. He’d always loved animals. They were, oddly enough, what had gotten him into being a doctor in the first place. He’d taken in all sorts of straggly creatures from outdoors and nursed them to health. Sherlock would’ve likely been very proud. It was exactly his sort of endeavor.

The room was still filled with empty cages that had once housed all kinds of animals, and it seemed that his mother hadn’t actually tidied up at all. When John had moved out his parents had hardly touched his or Harry’s room.

His mum had always been painfully sentimental. John had the feeling that she’d liked leaving the rooms as if John or Harry could go right back living in them at any moment. It had been a bit of a laugh when they’d come home and re-entered their old rooms, looking exactly as they always had, but now that his mother would have the entire house to herself, it seemed sad and a bit pathetic.

The room would do though. It would be fine. He wouldn’t dream of sharing a bed with Sherlock. It was a preposterous idea. Completely insane. Just ridiculous. Oh, what the people would say.

But goodness, his old bed truly was small.

Chapter Text

John spent the next half hour unpacking his clothes and setting them neatly in the drawers of his long-empty dresser. While he was sure that Sherlock was content with living out of a messy, disorganized suitcase, John needed some order in his life. If everything else was falling apart, at least he would know exactly where to find his favorite jumper.

He finished unpacking and still hadn’t heard any word from his mother, or Sherlock, who he had left alone so suddenly earlier. John had expected him to come bursting in the room moments after they had parted, shouting declarations of boredom, but he hadn’t heard a sound from the other room.

John eyed the small bed for a moment before sighing and laying back on it. His feet dangled off the end in a rather ridiculous way. John had been an incredibly small child. He was short now, of course, but as a child he had been something of a hobbit. Without the odd feet, of course.

It had once been a sore spot in his mental image of himself. Children could be cruel and he had heard enough taunts about his stature to last a lifetime. Regardless of the jokes, his childhood had been fine. Just fine, really.

John closed his eyes and leaned back against the pillow. Sherlock was, indeed, very tall. He probably hadn’t been taunted about his looks. What could anyone say about his appearance? Now his mind on the other hand… His unique way of dealing with things and seeing details… That had likely caused Sherlock to be shunned immediately, as he often was even now. People feared things that were different. They always had, and they always would. And Sherlock was very, very different. Often his cold exterior could push people away. Not John though. No, John wasn’t going anywhere…

Before he’d realized it, John had fallen asleep. His late night had finally caught up to him and it seemed that thoughts of Sherlock were enough to distract him into drifting off.

He couldn’t have slept for more than a few minutes when he woke slowly, feeling a strange dip on the bed beside him. John tried to ignore the dull pounding pain in his head. The short nap hadn’t helped him much at all.

He kept his eyes closed and ran a hand across his forehead, dreading having to get up. “Food ready, Mum?” he mumbled, sitting up slowly, rubbing at his eyes and still resisting opening them.

“You’re going to wreck your sleep schedule, you know, by napping,”

A deep, familiar voice met John’s ears and he snapped his eyes open. “Sherlock…” he said, observing the man perched on the edge of his bed. John sat straight up in his bed as quickly as possible. He considered scooting away from Sherlock, who, despite only barely sitting on the edge of the bed, still pressed his hips close to John. But Sherlock was warm, and surprisingly soft, despite his angular, sharp appearance.

For a moment John had to fight the very strong urge to pull Sherlock’s feet, which dangled close to the floor, onto the bed as well and snuggle into him completely. But then he realized just how insane his mind was when muddled by sleep, and he was able to resist the urge more easily.

“You really shouldn’t be napping,” Sherlock said again, as if the fact that he had been watching John sleep wasn’t strange in the slightest.

“Naps can increase productivity and sharpen the senses. They’re good. There’s been research. I’m a doctor, remember?” John couldn’t help but snap back at Sherlock. He couldn’t always be right.

“Naps can be particularly adverse for insomniacs and those in a bout of depression,” Sherlock answered without missing a beat.

“And I am neither of those things,”

“You’re not an insomniac, by any means,” Sherlock said with a slight, smug tilt of his head.

“I’m not depressed either,” John said, lumbering out of the bed and stretching his arms above his head.

“Not chronically,” Sherlock said with confidence.

“Not at all,”

“Debatable,”

“Sherlock, I’m not depressed,” John said, his voice tinged with a bit of annoyance now.

“It’s only natural John. Nothing to be ashamed of. Your father has just died. You… ah,” He trailed off suddenly and unexpectedly, his eyes lowering to John’s waistline where his shirt had caught and revealed nearly an inch of the pale skin of his stomach.

John fumbled with his shirt and pulled it down to cover himself. Sherlock seemed dazed for only a moment before he started rambling on about the signs of short-term depression. John cut him off after a moment. The watching-him-sleep issue really did need to be discussed.

“Sherlock, how long were you in here while I was sleeping?”

“Not sure,” Sherlock murmured, his eyes flickering about the room. “I came to have you send a text, but,”

“Then you decided you would just watch me sleep and sit on the edge of my bed?” John cut in.

“I’ve seen you sleep before,” he said, like this should excuse it.

“We’ve talked about this then, haven’t we? Personal space?” John raised his eyebrows and gave Sherlock a knowing look.

“Not important,” Sherlock mumbled, moving to run a hand gently over one of the empty cages. “This was your childhood room,”

John sighed at the change of subject, but went along anyway. “It was,” he said, even though he knew Sherlock didn’t need the clarification.

But instead of spewing out a strand of observed facts, Sherlock simply muttered, “Surprising.”

“Excuse me?” John asked, unable to hide his awe now. Sherlock didn’t get surprised, unless maybe the latest criminal was particularly clever.

“I didn’t realize you liked animals so much. It makes sense, of course. It’s quite clear now. Your natural need to protect, to nurture. Your loyalty. It all goes right along with a love for animals. Don’t know how I missed it.”

“I grew out of the real obsession. Stopped fixing animals and started fixing people, I guess. I have considered getting a dog though. I’ve always wanted a dog,” John said, truthfully.

“We should get a dog,” Sherlock said. “A dog is a good idea.”

John wasn’t sure how to react to this. He had been considering the idea of getting a pet for a while now but he’d always assumed that Sherlock would be vehemently against it, or that he’d accidentally kill the dog. Or that he would kill it on purpose. Or otherwise just torture it with strange experiments.

Sherlock seemed to sense John’s thoughts because he began to clarify what he’d said. “Dogs are fiercely loyal. A dog could help protect you when I’m away.”

“I don’t need protection!” John blurted before he’d even thought about his words.

Sherlock waved him away with a flick of his wrists. “Of course you do,”

“Do you know how many times I’ve saved your life?” John said, with confidence.

“We’ve saved each other,” Sherlock said, focusing all his attention on John. “Many times,” And then Sherlock was closer. His face just above John’s, peering down at his with the strangest look in his eyes. Sherlock clearly still did not fully understand personal space.

John looked up and caught direct contact with Sherlock’s eyes. His breath caught in his throat. He could see everything from so close a proximity. Sherlock’s dark mop of curls, his bright, almost terrifyingly beautiful eyes, the smoothness of his skin, as if he was some porcelain doll, the exquisite curve of his lips…

For a moment he was distracted by the pure brilliance of Sherlock. He wondered how his skin would feel if he were to simply reach out and touch it, how his lips would feel against his own… He began to lean in, slowly. Sherlock’s eyes remained set on his own as he lowered his head towards John’s own.

“John, dear!” A shrill, high-pitched voice brought John to his senses. He jerked away from Sherlock in a sudden, panicked movement.

John looked at the floor, unable to say anything at all to Sherlock about what had nearly just happened. “Uh, food’s ready,” he said, keeping his eyes glued downwards as he rushed out of the room.

He had nearly kissed Sherlock.

Kissed. Sherlock. His eccentric, likely asexual, irritating, slightly insane, sociopathic friend, Sherlock Holmes… He’d nearly kissed him.

God, maybe he was suffering from some form of depression. Yes. He had to be.

Chapter Text

John bounded down the stairs to the kitchen without stopping to wait for Sherlock. He didn't know what to say to him, so he would say nothing. He would forget about the entire incident if Sherlock did and Sherlock certainly would. He wasn't much for talking about his feelings, if he had any at all.

Besides, Sherlock had surely only gone along with John's cues. Cues he hadn't sent on purpose, obviously. Cues that Sherlock had to have misinterpreted.

Well.

It didn't matter though, did it? They would go on as if nothing happened. They would sit together with his mother and have a lovely dinner, participate in idle chatter, go up to bed, slip into their very separate beds, and it would all be over in the morning.

That was the plan. Except when John rounded the corner to find his sister sobbing into his mother's shoulder in the kitchen, the plan rapidly shattered into a million pieces.

Harriet had always been the emotional one. Where John would much prefer to remain stoic in difficult situations, Harry was open to all of her feelings. It was part of the reason they had such trouble getting along. Harry was often just too much to take.

At her best she was beautiful in a simple, comfortable sort of way. John had always felt that she'd been the more attractive of the two of them. She was small and delicate, but her eyes were sharp and she typically wore only expressions that demanded respect. But now, with her sandy hair in a low loose ponytail and dark shadows surrounding her eyes, she looked like a train wreck. She had been drinking. It was clear immediately. John knew how she looked when she'd been drinking. He'd seen it too many times.

Harriet wasn't the type of person that could drink once or twice. She couldn't stop at a few beers. She was in all-or-nothing, every single time, and it was dangerous for everyone.

Her relationship with their father had been... strained, at best, and it was her addiction that kept them from speaking for years on end. Her hysterics were understandable. She hadn't spoken to Roger at all in months, and now he was gone. John knew the feeling. Though Harry had parted on bad terms. She'd been trying to get herself together. But she'd fallen back into her old destructive habits too many times and eventually their father hadn't wanted anything to do with her until she was completely clean.

John understood the sobs that traveled throughout her body. Losing him had been shocking, to put it mildly. But the drinking. He didn't understand the drinking. Alcohol had torn her apart from Roger in the first place. Drinking as a reaction to his death was the complete opposite of what he would have wanted. And somehow, John was sure that was exactly why Harry had done it. One last act to spite him, just like she'd always tried to do.

A rage filled John with sudden, blinding heat. When Harry saw that he had entered the room, she rushed at him, her arms open and pulled him close to her. The smell of alcohol filled the air and John couldn't take it. If it weren't for the circumstances of the drinking, John might have been able to handle the situation. He might have been more understanding. But his dad was dead. His dad was dead and still, still Harry couldn't do one damned thing right. He pulled out of her arms and raised a hand to his forehead, fighting the urge to explode then and there.

“I'm going out,” he said, grabbing his coat from where it had been draped over one of the chairs, and turning away from his mother and sister before he could see any questioning looks.

“John, the funeral's tomorrow. There are things we need to talk about.”

“I'm going out... for a drink!” he snapped, looking sharply at Harry. His mum winced and looked at the ground. He couldn't help the yell that jumped from him. His mother's expression remained wounded and he felt a rush of guilt. This wasn't her fault. None of it was her fault. Not his father, not Harry... “I'm sorry,” he said, clutching his hands tightly into fists. “I can't, Mum. I just...” he gestured at Harry. “I can't deal with this right now. I'm sorry, I need to go out. I have to go out. We'll talk when I get back, I promise.”

Harry seemed to come out of her drunken cloud enough to realize that he was referring to her. “John, John...” She reached for his arm but he jerked away. “I'm fine, John. Just fine. I only had one drink. Maybe two. You understand. It's nothing. Not a problem.” Her words were slurred and jumbled together in a way that told John that it most definitely was a problem.

“Mum. Out, okay?” He couldn't acknowledge Harry. Couldn't even look at her. His father had worked so hard on trying to get her help and now she'd used his death as an excuse to slip right back into her old habits.

John started for the door and then remembered that he had no form of transportation. He started to call a taxi on his phone, but his mother approached him and slipped car keys into his hand. “Go on then. Get some air,” she said, her hand warm on his back.

“What about Sherlock?” she called just as John shut the door. He faltered only for a moment before shaking his head and continuing his escape. To hell with all of it. He got into his mother's small car and drove away, heading for the local pub. If Harry, the resident alcoholic, was allowed to drink, then damn it; so was he.

 

By the time Sherlock found his way into the pub John was already well on his way to being drunk out of his mind. Hell, he was already drunk out of his mind. He had downed drink after drink in the hopes that everything could disappear, just for a bit, but a warm hand on his shoulder slowed his roll. He whirled around in his seat too see Sherlock looming over him, a worried crease between his eyes.

“Sherlock!” John said with a gleeful smile. He’d always been a clingy drunk. In his years at university he’d learned the dangers of his emotional state while drinking. Drinking made him touchy and open. He’d nearly always woken up to next to some woman… or man… that he barely knew. Apparently drinking revealed that his sexual orientation was a bit touchy and open too. “Come on then, Sherly,” he slurred, pulling Sherlock down by his coat to sit beside him. “Have a drink with me.”

“I think perhaps you’ve done enough drinking for the both of us.” Sherlock’s voice was hushed as he leaned in towards John. “We should go.”

Sherlock reached for John’s arm in an effort to lead him towards the door but John swiftly grasped his hand. “If you wanted to hold my hand, Sherlock, you need only ask.”

John’s head was swimming and it was hard to clearly read Sherlock’s expression, but he appeared worried. As worried as John had ever seen him, in fact. Though John was having a considerably hard time interpreting anything at the moment.

He lost himself in muddled thoughts for a moment. When his mind cleared enough for him to see Sherlock again, he found that his friend seemed to be arguing with the bartender.

“He’s had too much. Clearly. Is there no limit to the amount of alcohol that you’ll provide to someone without a designated driver present?”

Sherlock’s voice was sharp, harsh, as if he was genuinely angry with the man working at the bar.

“Come on, John,” he said, grabbing John’s wrist and pulling him away with such force that John didn’t even consider resisting. Sherlock was strong, he mused, a slight smile breaking out over his face.

Outside, Mycroft’s car sat waiting to pick them up. Momentarily John remembered that he’d taken his mother’s car out, but the thought was gone as soon as he realized that Sherlock was still clutching his wrist, leading him into the car. He could get his mother’s car later.

Sherlock pushed him gently into the backseat of the car and slid in beside him. “If you feel you’re going to be sick, let the driver know,” Sherlock said coldly, fixing his gaze out the window.

John’s lack of impulse control led him to slide closer to Sherlock in order to properly examine his expression. He looked… angry?

John raised a hand to trace the curve of Sherlock’s lips. To his hazy, drink-addled mind, it seemed like a perfectly good idea but Sherlock jumped away from his touch like it pained him.

“Are you cross with me, Sherlock?” John asked, reaching to run a hand through Sherlock’s hair because it just looked so... touchable.

Sherlock sighed but didn’t avoid John’s touch as he fingered his dark curls. “No, John. I’m not cross with you.” His eyes remained fixed out the window even as John continued to run his hands through his hair.

This would not do at all. John didn’t want Sherlock to look out the window. He wanted Sherlock to look at him. With a petulant little huff John placed his hand on Sherlock’s face and gently pulled him to meet his eyes.

Sherlock looked frazzled. A bit afraid. And a little like he was trying to fight something within himself. John grinned at the mix of emotions. Sherlock. Dear good old Sherlock. Anyone who argued that he had no feelings didn’t really know him at all.

And suddenly John was desperate to kiss him, to feel his lips against his own. Regularly his brain would quickly rationalize this. Maybe he’d tell himself that he was only tired, or confused, or depressed, but right now he was drunk. And being drunk made him honest.

He wanted Sherlock. Not because he was sad or lonely, but because he just wanted Sherlock. Right now, with alcohol pulsing through his system, he didn’t need any other reason than that.

John leaned forward and pressed his lips to Sherlock’s. John had enough sense to realize that Sherlock’s lips were incredibly soft and warm, but after that his mind was reduced to nothing.

He couldn’t think. Couldn’t think of anything except for Sherlock.

Sherlock deepening the kiss, leaning closer.

Pulling Sherlock closer with the upturned collar of his coat.

Moaning into his lips as they pressed as closely together as they could get.

It was a whirlwind. A complete and utter whirlwind of nonsensical, hazy, wonderful thoughts.

And then it was over. Sherlock was pushing John away from him, muttering words that John could barely hear.

“Not like this,” John thought he heard, but he couldn’t be sure.

They had arrived at the house. Sherlock opened the car door and waited to make sure John would follow him out. The driver, who had graciously pretended not to see what was happening in the back seat, didn’t say a word, but shot Sherlock a smug look.

John was feeling very tired now, and very confused. Everything had happened so fast and now he felt as if he was spinning and he might be sick on the ground.

He wasn’t fully aware of what was happening, but the next thing he knew he was resting on a large bed, with his shoes off.

“Sleep,” he heard a familiar voice command.

He did as it said.

Chapter Text

“John, you need to wake up,”

John ignored the voice, and turned to press his face deeper into the pillow.

“John…”

He tried to snuggle further into the bed, but Sherlock’s voice continued to cut into his sleep.

“John!”

John shifted and prepared to start his slow roll out of bed when a blast of freezing water hit him directly in the face. He sat up, spluttering and wiping at the water that dripped off his face.

Everything seemed uncomfortably loud and his own voice sounded magnified. His head ached considerably, but due to the fact that he had extremely hazy memories of the night before, he really should have had much more than this light hangover. That didn’t make sense. He’d never been one to recover abnormally quickly from drinking, and he felt far too normal after the night he’d had. But that wasn’t the most puzzling matter at the moment.

“What the hell, Sherlock?” he groaned in response to the water that had so rudely gotten him up.

“You wouldn’t get up. I saw that on television. It seemed effective. Testing it out has only proven that it is, indeed, very effective.”

“I will always regret getting you into the telly. That’s… You don’t have to do that next time. Wait,” John looked around at his surroundings. He was in the guest room. He’d slept in the bed that was intended for Sherlock. And Sherlock was tall. There was no way he’d fit himself in John’s tiny childhood bed. John could hardly fit in that bed. “Where did you sleep last night?”

“Right here,” Sherlock deadpanned, looking at the empty space on the bed next to John.

“Here?” John asked, raising his eyebrows. “This is where I slept.”

“Yes. And I slept beside you. We both slept here. As I’m sure even you deduced, this is a fairly large bed.”

Of course he had to take a stab at John’s intelligence. Because that was just Sherlock, wasn’t it?

“Yes, thank you. I did ‘deduce’ that much. I just don’t… You know, no. Never mind. It doesn’t even matter.” John waved his hand dismissively. There was no way to reason with this. Better to let it go. They’d slept beside each other. They were friends. That was… nothing. Perfectly normal, really.

“How do you feel?” Sherlock asked, content to move to a new subject.

“Fine…” John said, with an air of question in his voice. He still wasn’t sure exactly why he felt so fine. “Oddly fine, really. I’m pretty sure I should feel much worse.”

Sherlock nodded slightly. “Ah. Yes. Based on the amount of alcohol you consumed, you should feel terrible. So the remedy did work then? I’d been dying to try it. You were the perfect test subject.”

“The remedy? Test subject?” John couldn’t help but question Sherlock’s words.

“Do you have a headache?” Sherlock asked, completely ignoring the prior questions asked by John.

“Not a terrible one,”

“Interesting. Blurred vision?”

John pursed his lips. This was getting worrying. “No…” he said hesitantly.

“Hm. Strange cravings? Any swelling in your extremities?” Sherlock tilted his head and inspected John with curiosity filling his eyes.

“No. Sherlock, what did you give me?” John asked, his voice rising with alarm.

“Nothing,” Sherlock paused. “Well, something. Yes, definitely something. Don’t worry. Nothing dangerous. That I know of. I don’t think it’s dangerous. I’ve had this theory for a while. And my theories are usually correct. You feel fine though? Must’ve worked. Just as I’d expected. Frankly, you should be thanking me.”

“No,” John shook his head and ran a hand over his mouth. “Sherlock. People don’t thank others for drugging them.”

“But you feel fine. It worked.”

John murmured inaudible nonsense in response, because…. well, he did, by some miracle, feel fine. He climbed out of the bed, and shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. And then, as soon as Sherlock wasn’t there to completely fill his mind, scenes from the night before rushed back to him in a whirl of colors and unexpected memories.

Harry. Drinking. His mother. Storming out.

He’d been drinking, trying desperately to erase his pain, and Sherlock had been there.

They’d gotten in the car.

And then… kissing?

This was interesting. He remembered little else except for pleasure, pure excitement. A thrill. Sherlock all around him. And then nothing. Blackness. Goodness. This was all a bit not good.

“Sherlock… Last night. I was, er, very drunk,” John said, choosing his words carefully. “I need to apologize to you for anything that happened. Any mistakes that might have been made. I wasn’t thinking. You know,” John gave a short bark of a laugh. “I can’t even remember the last time I acted like that. Got so drunk, I mean. And I’m always getting on to Harry about it. There’s a difference of course, but…” John trailed off, realizing that he was getting off point and looked at Sherlock with a hint of shame in his eyes.

Sherlock’s eyes flickered noticeably to John’s lips, but he didn’t speak. John felt the need to fill the silence.

“And thanks, you know, for helping me. And just for… for putting up with me.”

“And kissing you?” Sherlock asked bluntly, and John wasn’t sure if that was pride in his voice or he was just hearing things.

John shot a look at the ground and then back to Sherlock. “No… That’s, uh, not what I meant. I didn’t…” He shook his head furiously, hoping that if he focused hard enough, the right words would simply fall out of his mouth.

They didn’t, but Sherlock was gracious, or perhaps impatient enough to interrupt him. “A joke, John. That was a joke. What happened last night, it’s a common action seen from drunks. I was a warm body; you were aroused due to the alcohol in your system. It’s no matter. It was quite fascinating anyway. A good example of how alcohol will make one do things that they normally wouldn’t dream of. We can pretend it never happened.” he said, his voice cold and distant.

John suddenly felt a rush of guilt wash over him. Though whether it was because he’d kissed Sherlock, or because Sherlock thought so little of himself that John would never dream of kissing him while sober, John wasn’t sure.

“I am sorry, Sherlock,” John said, catching eye contact with the man. “When I drink I do get… touchy. It’s not something I’m proud of, really. Actually, it’s gotten me in plenty of trouble throughout the years.”

“I imagine so,” Sherlock said, with a slight bow of his head and the smallest hint of a smile. He looked back up to John and there was a slight crease on his forehead as his smile faded into a frown. For a moment John was sure he had more to say on the matter, but slowly his frown disappeared, and he spoke again, on a new topic now.

“You need to get ready,” he said.

“Oh, God. The funeral. I’ve been terrible, haven’t I? A complete wreck. I was supposed to talk to my mum about some details and… God…” John pressed a hand to his forehead and squeezed his eyes shut. He let out a soft groan as he thought of what his mother, and Harry, must be thinking of him.

“The details have been worked out. Everything’s in order. Your mother and sister didn’t even see you come in last night. I spoke with them this morning about your wishes on the funeral. Now up. Get dressed. Your clothes should be in the other room. Harriet said something about a uniform…”

John thanked Sherlock again and hurried off to change his clothes. Sherlock had gotten him up early, which he was extremely thankful for because people would surely start dropping by the house soon to offer their regards before the actual burial.

John put his old, official uniform, which was just a bit too tight, on without voicing any complaints. He’d rarely worn it, as he’d often donned more civilian-style clothes for his work, but his father had always been swelling with pride over his service to the country. John had hoped that his mother would’ve lost the uniform, or forgotten about it, since it did make him feel fairly uncomfortable. He’d wanted to throw it out once he was home. It carried terrible memories, but his mother had insisted on packing it away and saving it. And he understood why she’d chosen it for him for the funeral. If it made him uncomfortable, then it didn’t really matter at all. His father was certainly owed that much.

When John exited his room, he found Sherlock waiting in the hallway. He was wearing a black suit, which, like all of his clothes seemed to be, was tailored perfectly to his body. He looked stunning. Far too stunning for a funeral. This might distract people. The clash of his dark curls, black suit, and pale skin was glorious and demanded attention. John knew he was staring, but he couldn’t stop his eyes from flitting over Sherlock again and again. He’d seen him before in striking clothes, but now, it was more difficult to draw his eyes away.

Perhaps it was the events of last night that made it difficult for John to catch his breath as he looked at Sherlock, or perhaps, and yes, this must be it, it was just one of the side effects of whatever Sherlock had given him to ease his hangover.

And likewise Sherlock seemed strangely in awe of him as well. He’d never seen the uniform, John assumed, and it was likely a shock to his system. Sometimes John was sure that Sherlock didn’t believe John had a life at all before him. And sometimes John wasn’t completely sure that he’d had one either.

“Shall we go?” John said, after he’d stared at Sherlock in silence for too long to be considered normal.

Sherlock looked John once more up and down, swallowed heavily, and nodded. “Yes… Yes, let’s go.” He drew a deep breath, as if he’d forgotten to inhale regularly.

He certainly had been flustered more in the last few days than John had ever seen before. Must be all the emotions, he told himself as he walked down the stairs with Sherlock trailing closely behind. Yes, the emotions.

Chapter Text

The morning passed John by in a distant blur. He sat at the kitchen table, his eyes fixed straight ahead, as condolences were given by family friends that had come by before the burial. He couldn’t feel anything, couldn’t really think about anything. He was vaguely aware of his mother talking to him, asking about his night, but Sherlock gracefully provided an explanation, telling her that they had simply gone out to eat and gotten in late.

John could feel Harry eying him sharply. She knew exactly where he’d really been, and what he’d been doing. Of course she knew. She’d spent enough time doing the same thing to know. But as aggressive and intense as Harry could be, she also knew when to keep quiet, and she held her tongue.

John was numb, even as they took the short car ride to the cemetery. Sherlock and John rode together in Mycroft’s car. John’s mother and Harry took a separate car.

The cemetery was cold. That was the only word that ran through John’s mind to describe it. The air was cold. The grey on the headstones was cold. The words of the preacher were cold. The faces of the people, cold… The tears threatening to fall from his eyes… The wind… Cold. All of it.

His father’s body being lowered into the ground. That was fucking freezing.

He hadn’t taken his eyes off of the casket throughout the entire somber service, but now that it was being lowered gradually down, he had to look away. John tore his eyes away from the box and focused on the closest thing within sight. Sherlock.

Sherlock stood beside him, so close that the edges of his coat brushed against John. His eyes were fixed on the casket; his expression, impossible to read. John tried to push the idea that his father was about to be buried out of his mind. He tried to distract himself with anything else, focusing on each of Sherlock’s individual features.

Sherlock’s eyes. The brilliant way that they always seemed illuminated. They had so much light in them. So much life. And then, sod it all. He was back to thoughts of his father again. His father’s eyes would never have that life again.

Sherlock’s hair. Full curls that were held perfectly in place, despite the fact that John was sure Sherlock never did any styling. His hair was dark, without even one grey hair. His father would have so envied that. He’d always playfully complained about his own steely silver hair. John knew it was only a matter of time before his hair turned completely the same color. Damn. Back again.

Sherlock’s forehead, with its slight creases caused… by what? Was it worry, annoyance at the dull world he inhabited, or pure, untamed inquisitive curiosity? John’s own face showed his age much more clearly. The lines on his forehead showed all of the stresses he carried, all the troubles he faced. And he would surely look even older after this. After watching his father be put into the ground forever.

He tried focusing on Sherlock’s lips, the spots of red on his cheeks from the cold, the long angles of his cheekbones… everything. But sometimes, even a beautiful thing wasn’t enough to distract one from all the hurt in the world. Sometimes the hurt was stronger than the beauty.

Sherlock turned slightly towards him, finally acknowledging the fact that John had been staring at him blatantly for quite a while. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even wrinkle his nose in confusion. He only reached out, and took John’s shaking hand in his own.

John hadn’t even noticed that his tremor had been acting up. He hadn’t even noticed that he’d been favoring his leg so strongly that he’d leaned all the way to one side, and nearly crumpled to the ground. He hadn’t noticed that he’d needed support until he had it. And then it consumed him.

Sherlock’s hand was warm in his own, and immediately he felt calmer, more in control of everything. The shaking in his hand all but stopped. Sherlock stood close enough to help hold him straighter as he tried to apply more pressure to his leg.

His mind flickered to the idea that people would likely judge them for this. For holding hands so publicly, so openly. But it didn’t matter. He didn’t care. Sherlock’s grip was too comforting, too warm, for him to care what anyone else would think.

Here, in front of his father’s grave, clutching to the hand of his best friend, nothing else mattered. He was here, and so was Sherlock, and he would make it through.

He caught Sherlock’s eyes for a moment, gave a slight, thankful tilt of his head, and turned back to face the casket that was now being covered with dirt.

With each new shovel of dirt that fell over his father, John gave Sherlock’s hand another tight squeeze. By the time the casket was nearly submerged, John was sure that Sherlock had to be feeling some pain from how tight he was holding on to him.

But Sherlock never complained. He never flinched. He never turned to John and explained how easy it was to break the bones of someone’s hand. He never informed John of what stage of grief he was currently experiencing. Most importantly, he never dropped his hand. Sherlock only wrapped his fingers more tightly against John’s as John tried desperately to hold himself together.

When the service was over and the area began to clear as people left in silence, Sherlock remained with John, never wavering.

John’s mum left the cemetery first. She gave John a warm squeeze on the shoulder before turning and heading for the car she’d arrived in. She didn’t give even the slightest look to John and Sherlock’s still clasped hands. It was as if it wasn’t a surprise at all.

When Harry left as well, again without commenting on, or even glancing twice at the intimate gesture, John realized that no one was surprised by this.

As John turned to walk back towards the car, pulling Sherlock along beside him, a light went off in his mind.

Of course no one was surprised. It was obvious, really. So damned obvious. And he’d been so painfully blind. So quick to pass Sherlock’s clear affection off as an experiment, or a quirk. He’d tried so hard to find a logical explanation for the looks, and touches, and soft words, but this? Sherlock’s hand around his… He had no explanation for this. This didn’t involve logic.

He hadn’t ever truly entertained the idea that maybe, just maybe, Sherlock actually cared for him… loved him, even?

God.

Sherlock. Loved. Him.

John froze mid-step as the thought entered his mind. Sherlock Holmes. The brilliant, eccentric, slightly psychopathic Sherlock Holmes had feelings, of some sort for him. He had to. It did explain so much.

Sherlock begging for him to come along on cases, even though John was usually clueless as to solving them. Sherlock’s attempts at going out, and having fun with John. His attempts to do things that only ‘normal’ people would do, just to appease John. His quick jump to go with John to his hometown. Making breakfast. All the sympathy he’d recently shown.

Sherlock was looking at John curiously now, as if he was worried. “John?” he asked, his voice low. “Are you alright?”

His hand had tensed slightly when they’d stopped walking, and John wasn’t even sure if Sherlock had known he was doing it. If he’d known he was worrying so openly.

John looked straight into Sherlock’s eyes, and somehow, despite the fact that they were standing in the middle of a cemetery where John’s own father had just been buried, despite the fact that this epiphany of Sherlock’s love had come only after tragedy, John gave the smallest of smiles.

“I’m fine,” he answered, squeezing Sherlock’s hand for assurance, and continuing his walk towards the car.

Chapter Text

When John and Sherlock had finally left the cemetery and returned to the home, Sherlock immediately rushed up the stairs and shut the guest room door. He gave only a mumbled, inaudible excuse for where he was going, but John shrugged it off as one of his eccentricities.

John knew that he’d been working on a case, and he wasn’t at all angry about it. Sherlock needed a case. He needed some sort of puzzle to constantly fill his mind. He couldn’t take a break. He couldn’t give himself a rest. John had the creeping feeling that he would actually go crazy if he didn’t keep himself busy. John had seen a bit of that craziness in the times that Sherlock would shoot the wall in boredom.

Sherlock had been more supportive and helpful than John had ever expected he could be. He had helped in more ways than he probably understood. If he needed a case to keep up the calm demeanor, then John wouldn’t fault him at all. In fact, John would encourage it.

While Sherlock rushed about the guest room, surely visiting his Mind Palace, or whatever that nonsense was that he was always referring to, John sat in silence at the kitchen table with his mother.

Harriet had hurried up to her room as well, though John was quite sure that she wasn’t solving any crimes.

Karen Watson had held strong throughout the funeral. Though her eyes filled with tears as her husband was lowered into the ground, she never cried. She had cried enough and now, in public, she would stand strong. She was a Watson, after all, and Watsons were strong.

John desperately wanted to pull her into his arms, to shield her from the pain and apologize for everything that she’d been through, but he knew that she wanted to do the same to him, and neither of them would act on the urge. The time for mourning was gone. Now they would hold their heads high again, and move along with their lives. Just as they always did.

“I think we’re leaving tomorrow, Mum,” John said finally, breaking the long silence. He stared at his folded hands on the table.

“Already?” she asked, looking up in surprise.

“Sherlock’s got work to do. He’s getting restless already. He’s a machine with cases, you know. God, you should see it. The way he works. Can’t sit still at all without having something to do.” John smiled slightly, without even realizing he was doing it. “It’s ridiculous really,” he said, shaking his head affectionately.

“Yes,” his mum smiled and reached to pat his hands on the table. “Ridiculous,”

The smile faded from John’s face as his mother pulled her hands back to cradle her midsection, as if she had to hold herself together. “Mum, I can move back home for a while if you… need some company, or help. Anything, really. Say the word. I won’t mind at all. Not one bit,”

“John,” her smile grew now, despite the sadness that still shone in her eyes. “Ever the caregiver, you. Always have been. But you would mind it very much if you had to move back here.”

“No, no,” John shook his head quickly and started to protest but his mother interrupted him before he could utter another word.

“Quiet now,” Her voice was low, as it usually was, but she demanded a quiet sort of respect. All of the family was like that. John, his father, even Harriet… they could all take charge of a room without ever raising their voice. John pursed his lips and waited for his mother to speak.

“I think you’re happy, John,” she said finally. “Actually happy. And I can’t remember the last time I saw you actually happy. I’m not sure you’ve realized it yourself yet, but you will. You always do. You’ve got something good. You’re smiling, and for once I don’t think that you’re faking it for me. So you, my boy, you will continue doing whatever it is that you’re doing that makes you feel so happy, and I will be just fine here.”

John was struck by her sincerity, her selflessness. He’d been told that he’d gotten some of these traits from her through his years, but he never truly believed it. She was stronger than he was, surely. She was better.

“You’re sure?” He couldn’t shake the guilt of leaving her all alone in this big house.

“He’s good for you, John. Sherlock Holmes, strange man that he is. And you’re good for him. Don’t you run away from that,” She glanced up at the guest room, where heavy footsteps could still be heard as Sherlock paced the room.

“Me? I… I’m not going anywhere,” John didn’t know what else to say. He couldn’t speak without allowing his innermost thoughts to be released, and those were far too vulnerable.

He wouldn’t be the one to leave, to break off whatever odd partnership he had developed with Sherlock. He was average, mediocre, boring. And Sherlock… Sherlock was everything, really. He was exciting, and eccentric. Young and fresh, and ready and able to take on the entire world if he wanted to. John was worn. He was tired, and he loved to sleep and lounge on the couch and do absolutely nothing at times.

Sherlock would tire of him, as he seemed to tire of everything. John wasn’t enough to hold the attention of this otherworldly man. He wasn’t enough to hold the attention of “normal” people. It was only a matter of time before Sherlock moved on.

“Well, Sherlock’s clearly not going anywhere,” his mum said, breaking into his thoughts and tearing them apart with her earnest words.

Still, the doubt was there in John’s mind, and his mother could read it clearly on his face. “He’s here with you, at your father’s funeral, meeting your family. John, darling, he’s not going anywhere,” she said again.

John tried to believe it.

“Besides,” his mother said, again cutting into the thoughts that were rapidly racing across his mind, “Harry’s going to move back in and stay a while. Get herself well, I think.”

“Is she?” John raised his eyebrows. He was wary of this idea. Harry had taken advantage of their mother’s kindness before.

His mum recognized the look before John could even voice his concerns. “She’s my daughter, John, and I will always give her another chance.” Her eyes grew cloudy for a moment, as if she was remembering, or perhaps trying to forget, the past. But after a moment she was back in reality, her lips turning upwards. “She’ll be good company.”

“Hm,” John murmured, still unsure of how to reply.

A loud bang resonated from upstairs and John remembered that Sherlock was there, doing God knows what. “I’m going to go… check on that,” John said, looking upwards with worry.

His mother glanced up, her eyes wide, and nodded as John hurried up the stairs.

John knocked on the guest room door several times. When he received no answer he simply burst in. Sherlock was stretched across the bed on top of the covers. His eyes were closed and his shirt was rolled up to reveal 6 Nicotine patches on his forearm.

As John watched, Sherlock thrashed about on the bed, let out a pained moan, and kicked violently. It occurred to John that he was asleep, and dreaming rather vividly it seemed.

“Damn it, Sherlock,” John stepped towards the bed and ripped each patch off his arm quickly. Despite the contact Sherlock didn’t wake and continued shifting uncomfortably on the bed.

John pressed a hand lightly on his shoulder. “Sherlock,” he said, shaking him gently.

Sherlock only thrashed harder and another strained noise came from his lips. He sounded like he was in pain. And John couldn’t take it. He shook Sherlock by the arm with such force that Sherlock’s eyes popped open.

“John,” he breathed, his eyes wide as if he didn’t believe what he was seeing. “You’re alright…” He spoke quietly, as if he were reassuring himself more than anything else.

“I’m fine, Sherlock,” John said, giving Sherlock a questioning look.

Sherlock raised a careful hand to John’s face. “Fine,” he mumbled, tracing his fingers along John’s features.

“I’m alright,” John said, his voice betraying him and cracking a bit. Sherlock’s reaction was so raw that he was a bit stunned.

“I was dreaming,” Sherlock said, again mostly to himself.

“6 patches is too many, Sherlock,” John said, pulling out of Sherlock’s reach and running a hand through his hair in exasperation. “They’re not too strong, but high doses of Nicotine can cause nerve damage. Surely you know that.”

“I had a 6-patch problem,” Sherlock answered, sitting up slowly.

“Nothing is a 6-patch problem,” John answered, his voice still tinged with annoyance. “You could hurt yourself. And you… you know that. You understand that you could and you do that anyway. It’s selfish. Incredibly selfish. Always putting yourself in danger just for the thrill of it. What happens when you’re actually hurt… or, God, worse? What then? What about the people who lo…” John stopped himself and lowered his head, pressing his lips tightly together.

He was overreacting; he could feel it. But he’d just lost his father. And this was just one of the many times that he’d seen Sherlock knowingly do something very stupid. It was infuriating.

“You are,” Sherlock said suddenly, his face set.

“I am what?” John snapped harshly before he could help himself.

“You… You’re a 6-patch problem. So yes, some things are a 6-patch problem.” Sherlock sounded as if he felt he was stating the obvious, but John noted the way he avoided eye contact.

“You did this because of me?” John’s voice was softer now. Because this, well, he hadn’t expected this at all. “You’re on a case though. You were trying to figure out a case and…”

“You, John. I can’t figure out you.”

John knew this shouldn’t be news to him. After all, he often caught Sherlock looking at him with confusion, with wonder, as if John was something he’d never seen before. But was that really a problem at all? Most people couldn’t figure each other out.

“Maybe you don’t have to,” John said as he shifted on the edge of the bed to better face Sherlock.

A crease formed between Sherlock’s eyes as he studied John’s face. “I don’t like not knowing. I always know.”

“Sometimes not knowing is good,” John offered, looking directly into Sherlock’s eyes. “Sometimes you don’t see things coming and it’s good.”

Sherlock opened his mouth to disagree, but as he started to speak John leaned forward, framed Sherlock’s head in his hands and pressed his lips softly to Sherlock’s.

For a moment John could feel Sherlock’s complete confusion as he fumbled to regain control of the situation, but then it was gone and Sherlock was moving closer to him, pressing further into the kiss.

Their lips moved together like some slow dance. Careful and soft, like they were afraid to break each other. In light of the recent circumstances, this was all John wanted. Affection, care… He didn’t want violent, aggressive kisses. Not now. Now he was content, more than content really, with soft, understated passion.

John was struck by just how good Sherlock was at this. He was precise, exact, just like he was in everything. And John knew that he really shouldn’t be surprised. Sherlock was good at nearly everything. But this… he hadn’t expected Sherlock to be so damn good at this. Every move, every touch felt as if Sherlock had studied it in order to achieve perfection. John knew in the back of his mind that he probably had.

When John finally leaned away, breathless and a bit shaky, he was met with a smug grin on Sherlock’s face.

“I did see that coming,” he sounded confident, and John wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth, or simply needed to feel like John couldn’t catch him off guard so easily, but it didn’t matter.

John let himself smile, and he knew exactly what his mum had been talking about. Because damn it, in spite of everything, he was happy.

Chapter Text

Before John’s smile even had the time to fade away completely, Sherlock had closed the distance between them again. He pressed his lips to John’s with force and reached to pull him closer. He kissed John with a hunger, like he’d been waiting for this moment forever. John was momentarily stunned by the raw passion, but he caught up quickly.

He brought a hand to Sherlock’s hair, and gripped tightly enough to have some control, but not tightly enough to cause pain. He toyed with the dark curls beneath his fingers and brought his other hand to Sherlock’s face, running his palm over the soft skin of his cheek and tracing the sharp angles of his cheekbones.

Sherlock’s hands had remained on each of John’s shoulders, but they were moving lower now, trailing down across his chest. Sherlock traced the hardened muscles through the thin fabric of his shirt carefully, as if he were inspecting him, and absorbing every single detail.

The kisses were more frantic now, with occasional nips rather than the gentle touches they’d shared previously. It was only when Sherlock started fumbling to remove John’s shirt that John pulled away from the embrace.

John’s head was spinning, though it wasn’t from alcohol or grief; now, it was simply from Sherlock. Sherlock, with his eyes shining expectantly and his lips red. Sherlock, with spots of color on his porcelain cheeks as he tried to catch his breath. Sherlock, with his nimble, meticulous hands. Sherlock, who was clearly eager for more.

And yet, John had pulled away.

Sherlock looked at him with his eyes opened wide in confusion. This wasn’t logical. Of course John’s actions were beyond him.

“Did I do something wrong?” Sherlock asked, his voice shaking slightly from adrenaline and perhaps from a bit of fear at John’s unexpected reaction. Sherlock didn’t do well with the unexpected. He also didn’t do well with being wrong. The fact that he’d asked at all shocked John for a moment.

Sherlock continued to peer at him curiously, and John couldn’t stop the small smile that lit up his face. Because it was preposterous, really. Sherlock was the most brilliant man he’d ever met, ever even heard of, and yet he could be so oblivious. He could take in every single detail, and miss the most obvious matters of the heart.

“You didn’t do anything wrong. God, you…” John gave a short huff of laughter. “You did everything exactly right.” John licked his lips quickly, and the taste of Sherlock that remained there was nearly enough to break his self-control.

Sherlock’s expression softened slightly but his focus remained on John. “Then I don’t understand.”

“Why I pulled away?”

“Obviously,” His eyes swept over John as he did a quick assessment. “Your pupils are fully dilated. You’ve responded in a very enthusiastic way. And based on the way that you’re continuously shifting to find a more comfortable sitting position, you are fully physically arou…”

“Whoa, Sherlock. Okay. Yes. Yeah. Thank you for that keen observation.” John’s voice crackled with sarcasm and he felt the blush creep across his cheeks. He cursed his painfully discreet, private habits. He’d just been having a brilliant snog with Sherlock, and yes, he was fully… enjoying it, but goodness, Sherlock didn’t have to be so outright about voicing every little thing. Some things didn’t have to be said.

“Then I don’t understand why we don’t proceed. I’m consenting. You’re consenting. We’re both physically aroused. This is the natural progression of our relationship.”

“Relationship?” John asked, before he could contain his words.

“A relationship, yes, John. Or perhaps you would prefer friendship? Or maybe just colleagues?” Sherlock’s voice was sharp and his eyes flashed darkly as he reminded John of the time that he’d denied being Sherlock’s friend at all. It seemed so long ago. It was so long ago, yet guilt rushed into him as if he’d said it yesterday.

“That’s not fair, Sherlock, and you know it,” he dismissed. “Relationship, yeah. That’s…” He paused and drew a deep breath. “Fine. Relationship is fine.”

“Fine?” Sherlock said, raising an eyebrow slightly.

“It’s good,” John said, the corner of his mouth quirking upward. “Very good,”

Sherlock gave a thin smile, and then reached for John. “We should continue then,” he said, pulling John close and moving with alarming speed to meet his lips. For a moment John was lost again, lost completely in Sherlock. In his lips, his hair, the lithe shape of his body. It was only when he heard Sherlock give a soft moan against his mouth that John remembered himself.

It took everything that John had to force himself away from Sherlock. Really, everything. He wanted nothing more than to… continue, but this wasn’t right at all. John pushed away from Sherlock and scooted to the opposite side of the bed. He pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes for a moment.

“No,” he said quietly, when he’d regained some amount of control. He opened his eyes and looked at Sherlock. His face was strained, painted with a mixture of hurt and confusion that John hoped to never again have to see, let alone be the cause of.

“I realize that I’m not quite as experienced in these matters as you are, John. You have obviously had many various sexual partners, and my own record is severely lacking, but I assure you, I can certainly keep up. I can do this. There won’t be any problems. I’ll impress you.” The look of hurt was gone now, replaced with a smug confidence that sent a jolt straight through John. Bloody hell. He was already impressed. He was always impressed.

Sherlock Holmes was trying to talk him into having sex. This wasn’t fair. This wasn’t even close to being fair.

“I…” As John started to speak an embarrassing noise left his mouth. It wasn’t a squeak. No. Definitely not. He would never admit that. It was, however, a rather high, undignified sound. He forced a cough and continued. “I never doubted your, um, abilities. Trust me,”

And he truly hadn’t. Sherlock was quite good at everything. He was precise and careful and brilliant and fantastic… and God, it occurred to John just how badly he wanted to sleep with him.

“Then why?” Sherlock asked, interrupting John’s muddled thoughts.

“Because Sherlock, not… not like this,” he said, after a brief pause. He was vaguely aware that he was echoing Sherlock’s words from when he’d been drunk. Funny that. Earlier it had been him trying desperately to “progress the relationship,” and now, the tables were turned.

“Like this?” Sherlock said, a crease forming between his eyebrows.

“In the guest room of my mum’s house, with my sister in the other room, on the day of my dad’s funeral.” Well, it really did sound ridiculous when put like that.

“Ah. Not like this,” Sherlock agreed, looking down with a certain amount of disappointment.

“You understand,” John said, because as much as Sherlock might pout, he knew that he did.

“Of course,” Sherlock said, standing from the bed and straightening the wrinkles out of his clothes. He ran a hand over his mussed hair in an effort to smooth it down.

“You don’t have to leave,” John said, sitting up straighter on the bed and peering at Sherlock.

“I want tea,” Sherlock said shortly.

John nodded. “Alright, yes. Tea sounds lovely. I’ll go, too.”

Sherlock said nothing and John felt the need to fill the silence. “Sherlock, you’re really not angry? You do understand?”

Sherlock’s expression softened. “I’m not angry. A bit sexually frustrated, yes. But not angry.”

John didn’t have to force the laughter now. Sherlock. Sexually frustrated. Goodness. Add that to the ever-growing list of things that John couldn’t believe he’d heard Sherlock say.

“Just a bit frustrated?” John asked, his tone playful.

Sherlock shot him an annoyed stare before opening the bedroom door. “Tea,” he huffed, standing by the door, waiting for John with a look of pure petulance on his face.

Once John had caught control of his laughter, he gave Sherlock a small smile. “Come on, then. I’ll make us both a cup.”

Chapter Text

Once John and Sherlock had gotten tea, shuffled about the kitchen for a few minutes, and made their way back upstairs, they both went into the guest bedroom. A small table, likely used in the past for writing, sat in front of the large window in the left corner of the room. They each took a chair at the table, and placed their cups in front of them.

“Are we going to talk about this then?” John asked, gripping the handle of his cup tightly. In all honesty, this wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have. He didn’t want to talk about anything. He truly wanted to throw the table out of the way, and crash into Sherlock’s lips, tearing his clothing off and pulling him onto the bed as they kissed, but that probably wouldn’t be the greatest idea considering the circumstances. Not that Sherlock wasn’t willing... That wasn’t the problem. Goodness. No. Bad idea. This conversation, as dull as Sherlock might find it, and as awkward as John might find it, really did need to be had.

“Talk about what? The tea? The water for the tea? Yes, it’s atrocious. Obviously taken from a well. I can taste traces of iron even through the flavor of the tea. Perhaps your mother should invest in a better filtration system. Excess iron in the body can cause…”

“Sherlock, not… no, not the water. That’s not what I meant.” John had to cut him off before he’d gone too far. Once Sherlock started rambling off facts, it was difficult to get a word in.

“The osculation, then,” Sherlock said, his eyes meeting John’s and sending a wave of heat through John’s body.

“Osculation, yeah, okay… The kissing,” John shook his head and looked down at the table. Sherlock really would insist on making things technical, wouldn’t he?

“What is there to talk about?”

“What’s going to change now that we’re… together?” John said.

“Very little, I expect,” Sherlock said in a matter of fact tone. “There will likely be regular sexual gratification; that’s new, but otherwise, our partnership will remain as it always has been.”

John fired a doubtful look at Sherlock. “As it’s always been? What about dates and telling people and, well, I don’t know…”

“As I’ve tried to tell you before, we already go on dates,” Sherlock said, taking a sip of his tea.

John shook his head but Sherlock pressed on. “We go out to restaurants together, sit at intimate tables with low lighting, and talk about the events of our lives. Are those not considered dates?”

“Those are dinners, as friends,” John replied.

“But we’ve always been more than friends, haven’t we?”

“Not the point.” But they had. Always been more. John hadn’t necessarily always wanted to embrace it, but they’d always been closer than most. Friendship seemed too casual a term.

“Dates aren’t always just going out to eat. Sometimes couples go other places, like to shops, or the movies.”

“We went to the movies last week,” Sherlock said quickly.

John held back a groan. There was no point arguing this. They had gone to the movies just last week. John had convinced Sherlock to accompany him to the latest action/mystery film. He often tried to get Sherlock out of the flat. It had been a mistake that John didn’t plan on ever making again.

Sherlock had rambled throughout the entire opening scenes of the movie. He knew exactly what would happen to end every plotline within the first 5 minutes, and he was far too vocal about sharing his knowledge.

They’d been kicked out of the cinema after only 15 minutes of entering. Though John had been a little embarrassed of being treated like a teenage delinquent, he’d laughed the entire way home at Sherlock’s rant about the ignorance of the entertainment business.

“Fine, fine,” he mumbled, realizing that he had no true argument.

“The dates will be different because they will be followed with intercourse,” Sherlock said casually. John had just taken a drink and he barely managed not to spit it out with surprise at the nonchalant way Sherlock spoke.

“Right,” John considered simply moving on from the conversation but a thought had struck him and he found himself unable to ignore his curiosity. “Sherlock, have you ever…” He paused and motioned with his hand, trying to make his question clear without actually having to voice it.

“Had sex?” Sherlock finished, raising an eyebrow.

John felt the creases form on his forehead as he looked up at Sherlock.

“No,” he said, his eyes flickering down to his cup of tea.

“Never?” John’s voice rose. He couldn’t help his surprise. Sure, Sherlock was a bit odd. Okay, he was very odd. But never? That seemed ridiculous.

“No, John. Never,” Sherlock said.

“But you’re…” John was quickly interrupted.

“A freak? Rude? Insensitive? A machine? Crazy? Off my rocker?” Sherlock articulated his words crisply, and they cut straight into John.

“Based on the evidence,” Sherlock continued, “I think those are the reasons that I haven’t found a suitable partner in the past. Or no one’s found me to be a suitable partner...” Sherlock’s eyes seemed considerably darker than usual when he raised them to meet John’s.

“No,” John drew a sharp breath. “No, Sherlock… that’s not at all what I was saying. I was surprised because…”

“I know you can be a bit dim, John, but I’m sure you’ve noticed that I am not exactly a ‘people person.’”

“Well, obviously, but you’re…”

Sherlock lifted a hand slightly to stop John’s words. “Please. I’ve heard them all. Every insult. I assure you, I could write a novel with the comments that I’ve heard,” He paused and added as an afterthought, “Though I’m not sure anyone would care to read it.”

People were frightened by Sherlock; that was it really, why they were always so rude, so quick to dismiss. John saw it every day. People didn’t give Sherlock a chance, not when he called them stupid or knew things about them that no one else knew. It had never occurred to John that Sherlock might actually be bothered by their words though. John had always assumed that Sherlock thought these insults were below him. Unimportant. Now, however, John could see a trace of hurt in Sherlock’s eyes. Everyone wanted to be accepted, it seemed, even Sherlock Holmes.

“Gorgeous,” John said slowly now that Sherlock had finished speaking. “I was going to say, that I’m surprised that you’ve never had sex because you’re gorgeous. You really should learn to let me finish my sentences once in a while.” He tried for a small smile, but Sherlock didn’t return it. His mouth had fallen open, as if he wanted to speak, but couldn’t find his words.

Sherlock’s eyes widened before they set in a certain look of realization. Apparently of all the colorful things he’d been called throughout his life, gorgeous wasn’t something that came up often.

“You’re not a freak, Sherlock,” John said. And then, before he even completely realized he was doing it, he was reaching his hand across the table to take Sherlock’s. “I don’t think you’re a freak.”

John couldn’t help a small laugh when Sherlock looked up doubtfully into his eyes. “Okay, alright. Admittedly, you are a bit… eccentric, at times. Uh, yes. Well. Most of the time. But it’s got a real charm to it, you know.”

“You deserve better, John,” Sherlock said softly. And there they were. He’d found the words he was looking for. His hand remained in John’s but his grip was loose, as though he considered pulling away.

“Ha,” John let out an unenthused huff of laughter, licked his lips, and looked towards the ceiling. “Better?” he asked, looking back at Sherlock.

“Yes. Normal. You deserve a lovely wife, a few children, a calm, normal, happy life…”

“Now, surely you know me better than that, Sherlock. Normal has never been my cup of tea. I think I’d go mad with boredom. Sure, I like a relaxing, quiet night in from time to time, but forever? No. I think I’ll pass, thanks.”

John noted that Sherlock was holding on to his hand tighter now, gaining confidence through his words.

“I’m dangerous, John…” His low, deep voice resonated in John’s ears.

“Well, I like danger, don’t I? You say ‘danger,’ and I come running,”

This time when John smiled, Sherlock returned it. It was slight, hesitant, but certainly there.

A moment of comfortable silence passed before John slipped his hand out of Sherlock’s, and stood from his seat. “Now,” he said, releasing a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, “I need to go and have a word with my mother. Make sure the finances are all… worked out.” His father’s death had been so unexpected that many papers remained unsigned, many taxes, unpaid. He feared his mother might not be sharing all of her troubles with him.

“Wait. John.” Sherlock stood as well and took two steps to stand face-to-face with John. He brought his hands to John’s face, gently cradled it, and pressed a soft, chaste kiss to his lips.

John’s eyes were wide with surprise when Sherlock pulled away.

“Okay,” Sherlock said with a small nod. “Go on then.”

John left the room grinning.

Chapter Text

The rest of the day passed by in an exhausting, yet still fairly uneventful manner. The day held no fighting, or particularly intense conversation, but for John, there was constant emotional work. John first ironed out the financial details of his father’s death with his mother for a considerable period of time. Thankfully, she was much better off than John had expected. She would be okay. She would manage. Roger always had been a very rational man, and it seemed that even in the event of an unexpected heart attack, he’d had everything in order.

After talking with his mum, John set out to venture back up to the guest bedroom. It wasn’t that he missed Sherlock, exactly. They had only been away from each other for a little while. He was just… in need of his presence. Okay. So maybe he missed him. Just a bit. Not in a clingy, needy way or anything. Just in a way that, he needed to hear his voice and think about something other than his deceased father for a bit. Talking to his mum had worn him down, and Sherlock could surely calm the roar in his head, at least for a little while.

But when John reached the top of the stairs and heard loud, shaking sobs from within Harriet’s room, he had turned to knock on her door instead. His own selfish needs could wait. He would be fine. Sherlock would be there for him later, too. And John was ever the comforter. He couldn’t imagine letting Harry’s cries go unnoticed. John eventually talked her down to a quiet whimper. But still he stayed with her for a while, just being there. She needed him, and somewhere, deep down, he needed her too. No matter how terribly they usually got along, this was their father, and they shared the grief. Harry, more than anyone else, knew exactly how John felt, and even if they merely sat in silence together, the action did hold a certain amount of comfort.

When John had finally been able to slip out of Harry’s room, his mother had called from the kitchen and announced that dinner was ready. Instead of falling into Sherlock’s arms or kissing him until he forgot about every dark feeling that inhabited his mind, like he so wanted to, John was forced to place a courteous knock on the door and alert Sherlock to come downstairs.

Though John was slightly afraid that Sherlock would mention the change in their relationship in front of his family, Sherlock was on his best behavior throughout the meal. He never faltered at all. He didn’t talk much, but when he did it was polite, uncharacteristically courteous.

It wasn’t that John was embarrassed to be with Sherlock. No. Not even a little bit. In truth, he’d basically been with Sherlock for a while now. Sure, there’d been nothing sexual involved before now, but that wasn’t what people seemed to assume. If he was being completely honest with himself, John knew that no one would be at all surprised by the fact that they were actually “together” now. He’d seen enough of the “JohnLock” postings on his webpage to know that people were already under the impression that they were madly in love.

It just seemed to John that announcing a new relationship so soon after the death of his father could easily be deemed insensitive. His mum would be pleased, he knew, but any little thing could set Harry, a regular time bomb, off. She might be pleased for them, but she could just as easily scream and shout, calling him all kinds of terrible things. Better just to wait. The dinner progressed without any surprises, and John had stayed downstairs for a while afterwards to keep his mother company.

As night fell, John found himself growing increasingly exhausted. By the time he had made his way upstairs for the night, he was ready to fall asleep on his feet. He’d been planning on popping back into the guest room and enjoying a gratifying make-out session with Sherlock, (God, he was basically a teenager again.) but he felt that, disappointingly, he couldn’t even stay awake for that. They’d waited so long to actually act on these feelings; surely a bit longer wouldn’t kill them. Though, John wasn’t at all happy about the waiting; that was for sure.

It had been a long day, one of the longest of his life even. It wasn’t tiring in the way that days spent at war were tiring. It was tiring in a way that days spent after war were tiring. After his friends were gone and he was so alone and lost and unsure of what to do next. John felt thin. Like his body had been strung out too tightly. He felt like he’d been pulled in every direction lately, and the stress was beginning to take its toll.

He hesitated outside Sherlock’s door for a moment. Perhaps he should say goodnight. Should say something, at least. But Sherlock almost always disappeared into the night without a goodbye. He’d never been one to wish John goodnight before, why bother him now?

Despite feeling a bit like he was hiding, John went straight into his childhood bedroom. He pulled the covers of the tiny bed down and slid under them. His feet hung at an uncomfortable angle off of the end of the bed. John was so tired that it didn’t seem to matter.

As soon as he’d slipped into the bed his eyes shut involuntarily and he felt himself begin to drift away. Just as sleep threatened to completely overtake him, a creak from the door jerked him back awake. He sat up immediately, always at the ready, and watched as the door opened slowly.

Sherlock entered the room without a word and walked towards the bed. He stopped in front of John and looked down at his hanging feet with a puzzled expression.

“That isn’t good for your circulation,” he said, raising his eyebrows slightly.

“I’ll be fine,” John mumbled, rubbing his eyes and trying to keep himself awake for the conversation.

“Don’t be ridiculous, John. Come with me.” Sherlock gestured towards the room across the hall.

On one hand, John wanted nothing more than to follow Sherlock into the room, push him backwards onto the bed, and do all the things that he’d been thinking about doing for so long now. But on the other hand, he could barely hold his head up, even now and he knew that any attempts at intimacy would be both underwhelming, and, as he’d realized before, at the completely wrong place and time.

“Sherlock,” he said, shaking his head and looking down to avoid his scrutinizing eyes. “We can’t.”

“Can’t sleep? No, I don’t think that’s true at all. You look incredibly tired. I’m quite sure that you can sleep. I, admittedly, have had trouble keeping a consistent sleep pattern in my life, but it has been a tiring day, and I don’t feel that sleep would be out of the question. The bed is certainly large enough for two people. Whereas this bed is hardly large enough for one… very small, person. Come on then.”

John pursed his lips at Sherlock’s “very small” comment. “I’m not that small,” he said petulantly.

“You’re several inches below the average height for men in England.”

“You know the average height of men in England?”

“I know the average height of men in other countries, too. And women. And children, categorized by age. Would you like to hear the numbers?”

John shook his head quickly. “No, fine. Why is that information that you’ve deemed important?”

Sherlock shrugged slightly. “The height of the attacker often plays a part in how one is murdered. One must often take height into consideration. But children’s heights? Why know those?”

“Murder comes in many packages.”

“Ah,” John said, pressing his lips tightly together. “This bed is fine though,” he said after a moment, turning back to the conversation at hand. “I think… maybe tonight I should just stay here, yeah?”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “Don’t worry, John. I promise not to take advantage of you. Regardless of how much I would like to.”

The statement was so blunt, so matter-of-fact, that John felt the blush creep all the way to the tips of his ears as he lumbered awkwardly out of the bed. “Alright, you win,” he huffed. “As always,” The fight was worthless, as it typically was with Sherlock. Despite the exasperated act, he couldn’t help the smile that bloomed across his face as he followed Sherlock into the guest bedroom. This was all ridiculous. Completely ridiculous, really.

Sherlock got into the bed first. He left a considerable amount of space on the other side of the bed for John. He didn’t speak, didn’t pressure John to join him, but John did. He slid carefully into the space that Sherlock had left for him, and tried to let go off the tension that he felt throughout his body. The fact that he could hear Sherlock breathing, and feel his every move on the bed didn’t help John relax in the slightest.

“Goodnight,” Sherlock said, breaking the silence without warning. He reached to cut the lamp off beside him and that was that.

The room went black and John was left stunned. That had been surprisingly sudden. He had expected Sherlock to be hovering around the room, conducting some odd experiment or taking data of some sort. Or maybe he’d expected a conversation. Anything. This quick darkness caught him completely off-guard.

“You’re actually going to sleep?” John asked, his voice, even as he tried to keep it low, booming in the dark room.

Though he could hardly make out the details of the man beside him, John could feel Sherlock shift to face him. “You’re tired.”

“Well, yeah. But if you’re not you don’t have to… I mean, you don’t have to force yourself to sleep just because I’m here. Sherlock, if I’m bothering…”

“John,” Sherlock interrupted, “Go to sleep.”

“I’m not a child, Sherlock!” John’s voice was loud before he’d even been able to help himself. He was prone to outbursts and the day had just been too trying.

“I don’t think that you’re a child.”

“Then stop treating me like one. God, this whole weekend you’ve been walking on eggshells around me. And now Harry is just falling apart all over again. My mother’s going to be left with no one. I’ve been so damn selfish. I just don’t know… I mean, I can’t…” The words wouldn’t come and John felt a sting in his eyes. He tried to voice what he thought, but he didn’t really even know why he was angry and so he settled on sighing and turning away from Sherlock in the bed. He shut his eyes hard and willed himself to hold it together. He was taking everything out on Sherlock and it wasn’t fair, he knew, but he couldn’t be bothered to feel too badly about it at the moment.

The weekend had just been an overload of highs and utter, despairing lows. And Sherlock could be frustrating. Extremely frustrating. That wasn’t something that would just change because they were… more than friends, now. It wasn’t, in actuality, something that John wanted to see change. This was Sherlock, as he knew him. Often infuriating in his brilliance.

The tears that threatened to fall leaked at the corner of John’s eyes, and he wiped them away quickly, praying that Sherlock didn’t notice. But of course Sherlock noticed. This was Sherlock. He always noticed.

His breath was shaky and he tried desperately to sound fine, but he knew he was doing a lousy job of it. He expected Sherlock to speak. To call him irrational or try to explain that this was an emotional response that was expected, or something, but Sherlock didn’t say a word.

Instead, Sherlock reached his arm across the bed to pull John close to him. John didn’t struggle. As his silent sobs threatened to surface he allowed himself to be pulled into Sherlock’s body. He rested his head on the graceful curve of Sherlock’s chest and breathed in his scent, letting it fill him up.

He was comfortable and close, and unbearably alive. John clutched at Sherlock’s shirt, his fists tight. John had never been much of a cuddler, but being close to Sherlock comforted him in a way he’d been desperate for. The closer they were, the quicker the pain seemed to fall away in his head.

Sherlock pulled his arms tighter around John and finally, finally John caught control and closed his eyes.

The warmth of Sherlock’s touch lulled him to sleep as they remained, pressed closely together, clutching to each other, in the large bed.

Chapter Text

“Sherlock, I think we should wait on Lestrade before we go in for this one…”

“Hm,” Sherlock mumbled, hardly acknowledging John at all as he walked toward the warehouse.

“Sherlock!” John said loudly. Sherlock stopped and looked back at John, eyes narrowed.

“Yes?” he asked, giving John a look that was absolutely loaded with annoyance.

“I think we should wait out here. Just, you know, in case. I’ve got a bad feeling.”

And he did. He could feel a churning in his stomach. He felt uncomfortable, like a storm was brewing. Something here was off. Something was very wrong.

“Nonsense,” Sherlock said, completely oblivious to the discomfort that John was feeling. “The killer is in there, John!” he said, as if this proved all the more reason to enter the building. Sherlock grinned a manic grin and slipped through the warehouse door before John had time to stop him.

“The killer… that’s exactly what I’m worried about,” John grumbled to himself. He ran a hand quickly over his forehead in exasperation before resigning to his fate and following Sherlock into the building.

When John stepped into the huge warehouse he saw hundreds of large cardboard boxes stacked throughout the building. They sheltered his view, letting him only see small areas of the building past their height. John had only entered seconds after the detective, but there was virtually no sign of Sherlock. He had already disappeared into the depths of the warehouse, surely weaving his way in and out of boxes without a care in the world, as if there wasn’t a cold-blooded killer hiding somewhere in his midst. John had asked him countless times to wait up. It wasn’t safe to go after murderers alone, but Sherlock never seemed to acknowledge, or eve hear, the request.

John pulled out his gun and stepped carefully through the building, listening intently for any sound of Sherlock, or the murderer that they’d been tracking down for days.

He’d been walking lightly around boxes for several minutes in silence when a gunshot rang out through the warehouse. John could physically feel his heart skip a beat as he took off towards the noise, gun out and pointed straight ahead. He had no way of knowing who had been taken down.

John turned past a stack of boxes to see a body sprawled on the ground. The attacker was gone, probably out the backdoor by now. John drew a ragged breath and approached the body.

He looked down at the figure and saw his worst fear before him. Sherlock Holmes was motionless on the ground, in a pool of his own blood. His eyes were open, and as panicked as John had ever seen them. They scanned hurriedly over John’s face, like Sherlock was drinking in the image.

“John,” he choked, trying to raise his shaking, bloodied hands to apply pressure to the wound in his chest. “I appear to have…”

“Gotten yourself shot, damn it. Yes, I can see,” John mumbled, dropping to his knees and pressing his hands to Sherlock’s chest. The bullet hole was clean, straight into his upper chest, but John knew this kind of wound. He’d seen it too many times in the war. He couldn’t treat this, not here without supplies. They’d called Lestrade but it didn’t matter; he would never get there in time, no matter what. There was nothing to do but wait.

Sherlock’s intakes of air were ragged and forced. John could see the pain in his friend’s eyes, the pure terror.

“It’s going to be fine, Sherlock. Okay? Just fine.” But John was a doctor. He was a trained professional. And he knew that he was telling Sherlock a lie. This wound, this amount of blood loss… it wasn’t going to be fine at all.

Sherlock attempted a huff of laughter but it came out as more of a strained cough. He saw right through John’s lies. Of course. Didn’t he always? Sherlock was smart enough to know the extent of his own injuries.

“You’re lying,” he managed finally, pushing through his pain to give John a knowing look.

“Now would I ever do that? Lie to a genius like you?” John tried his best at a smile, but it had to have come out as more of a grimace. He had never, in his entire life, felt less like smiling.

“You’re,” Sherlock paused and gave a small cough. He winced visibly. “Now you’re just trying to make me feel better. Calm me down before I… succumb. Soothing words… boring,” Somehow, even with a hole in his chest, while lying in a pool of blood, Sherlock was able to analyze John’s every move, and be his usual self.

John squeezed his eyes shut for a brief moment before looking back at Sherlock. “Don’t talk, alright. I’m not lying. I’m not. You… you’ll be fine, okay. Sherlock. You have to be fine. For me.”

Somewhere in his words John realized, with a sinking feeling, that he believed them. Sherlock would be fine. He was always fine, no matter what. He didn’t know how it was even possible, but he had to be. Because a life without Sherlock, God, John couldn’t even entertain the possibility. Not even for a second.

“I am sorry, John,” Sherlock said, his voice small and growing weaker with every passing moment. “Should have waited for you, I suppose.”

“Are you admitting that I’m right? I should record this,” John lifted the corner of his mouth and tried his best at using a light tone, but his voice was shaking despite his efforts.

Sherlock coughed again, a small, frail noise that cut straight through John. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he said, so quietly that John had to strain to hear him. And then Sherlock’s eyes were fluttering shut. His breathing was growing quiet. Too quiet.

John shook his head furiously. “No,” he said, realizing what was happening and pressing his hands tighter against the bullet wound. “No, no, no. You’re going to be fine, Sherlock. We’ll go back home. I’ll make tea and get on my laptop. I’ll type this up in a silly blog. You can do your experiments and I won’t even question you if you leave strange body parts in the refrigerator. I won’t even mind at all. Everything will be fine. It will be normal and just… just fine.” He was rambling now, inarticulate, completely unable to control himself.

“John,” Sherlock said, weakly lifting his hand to place it over John’s. “Stop.”

“Damn it, Sherlock!” John yelled, his voice echoing throughout the warehouse. Tears were filling in his eyes and he tried desperately to blink them away. Sherlock gave his hand a weak squeeze and John grasped it, as if holding on to Sherlock’s hand tightly enough could save his life.

“What the hell am I supposed to do, Sherlock?” John said, looking with despair at the fading light in Sherlock’s eyes.

“Be fine,” Sherlock choked, his voice barely audible. “You’ll be fine,” he repeated after a pained breath. “John,” he said quietly, once more. And then his eyes were shut and his chest was still.

“No,” John was numb as he pounded on Sherlock’s chest, trying desperately for a miracle. “You can’t leave me,” he said, voice shaking as he leaned in to breath his own air into Sherlock’s mouth.

But nothing worked and Sherlock remained lifeless. John spiraled farther and farther into insanity as he threw himself over Sherlock’s body, a cry of despair leaving his lips.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

John woke from his sleep in a frenzy of shouts, sweat beading on his forehead, and violently thrashing arms. Somewhere deep in his mind he was aware that he had been asleep, that this wasn’t all real, but it certainly felt real. It felt painfully real. In this hazy period between sleeping and waking, he felt the loss of Sherlock straight to his core.

He could still see Sherlock’s fluttering eyes from the dream, feel the way his blood had coated his hands. He could perfectly recall seeing Sherlock, seeing his best friend, and more really, die right in front of him. It was too much. His father, and Sherlock, and it was just too much. He couldn’t keep still or think rationally. He was unaware of reality, wrapped up in the terrible world that sleep had taken him to.

In was only when a pair of strong arms pulled him close that John was able to relax at all.

“You’re fine, John,” a low, familiar voice murmured in his ear. “You were dreaming. A chemical reaction, John. Nothing more. You’re here. Right now.”

John drew a sharp breath as he turned to face the owner of the voice. “Sherlock, you… you were…” he breathed a sigh of relief, and raised a hand to lightly brush Sherlock’s face. He had to be sure this was real. Sherlock’s warm skin brought him some assurance.

“Just a dream,” Sherlock said again. His eyes were bright, as if he hadn’t slept at all. John knew his typical sleep schedule. He probably hadn’t slept at all.

“Can you go back to sleep?” Sherlock asked as John’s breathing slowly returned to normal.

John’s mind was racing now. His heart was still pounding. The memories from the dream were all too vivid. “I think I’ll just go down for some tea,” he said, sitting up from the bed.

Sherlock followed John down to the dark kitchen without a word. He didn’t ask if John needed him there, but of course, he must’ve deduced it. Once they were seated across from each other at the kitchen table, each with a cup of tea, Sherlock spoke in a quiet voice.

“Are you still dreaming about the war? It’s normal, you know. The amount of trauma sustained has to be handled by the subconscious mind in order for you to function properly in everyday life. Though, I have witnessed you experience harsh dreams before. You’ve always seemed far less distressed than you were tonight. It worries me that the dreams are still so vivid.”

“It worries you?”

“Of course,” Sherlock deadpanned.

“The dream wasn’t about the war,” John said.

Sherlock raised an eyebrow.

“I do, I mean, yeah. I still dream about it, from time to time, but not this one. Not this dream. This was different.”

“About your father,” Sherlock noted, while looking at John’s face, scanning his reaction.

“Not my father actually, no.”

“Harriet?” Sherlock tried.

“You, Sherlock,” John said, looking up from his tea. “The dream was about you.”

“Interesting,” Sherlock said, his eyes flickering down at the table uncomfortably.

They lapsed into silence as they both took tentative drinks of their tea. Finally, Sherlock broke the quiet.

“What happened in your dream?” he asked. John could tell that he’d been struggling not to ask this. His curiosity had finally gotten the better of him.

“You got shot,” John said, looking at Sherlock with a slightly pained expression. It was probably best to just come right out and say it.

“In the chest, I presume?”

“Yes… How…”

“Your subconscious wouldn’t very well want to mess up my face, would it? That would truly be a nightmare.” Sherlock interrupted.

John, despite the lingering memory of his dream, gave a laugh. The tentatively proud look on Sherlock’s face brought John to the conclusion that this had been Sherlock’s intention. Make him laugh. It wasn’t an approach that Sherlock often took, but it had worked, God bless him.

“Let’s go back to bed,” John said after a moment.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Once they’d snuggled back under the covers of the bed and turned the lights out, Sherlock spoke again.

“You are alright, aren’t you John?”

John shifted in the bed and moved towards Sherlock. They hadn’t really discussed cuddling, not in any forthright fashion, but it couldn’t really hurt… John leaned into Sherlock’s body and, for once, he was thankful that he was so short. He fit perfectly with Sherlock’s lithe body. John rested his forehead on Sherlock’s chest, and nuzzled closer to him, reveling in his warmth, in his comfortable, familiar smell.

“I’m fine,” John answered finally, once he’d found Sherlock’s hand and taken it in his own. “All fine.”

John could practically hear Sherlock’s smile in the darkness as his arms tightened around him.

Chapter Text

When John awoke the next morning he was met with only the company of a cold bed. A bed that was very clearly lacking a certain detective. John rubbed at his tired eyes and sat up slowly. A neat, already completely packed pair of suitcases sat beside the door. So Sherlock had gotten up early to pack then. Bit odd, but helpful nonetheless. He must be anxious to get back to Baker Street. As much as he loved his family, John understood the feeling.

The bags were accounted for, but Sherlock remained nowhere to be seen. John stretched his legs off onto the side of the bed and stood, stretching to work out the kinks that had settled in with sleep. He started to pull clean clothes for the day out of his bag, but stopped upon seeing that an outfit had already been laid out on the table in the corner. Sherlock had thought of everything. Of course.

John pulled on the dark trousers and blue jumper, which he was quite sure he hadn’t even owned, let alone packed, and hurried downstairs.

He found Sherlock alone in the kitchen, midway through a cuppa with a paper folded in front of him. “Good morning, John,” he said, without sparing so much as a glance up from his reading.

“Morning,” John mumbled, starting to prepare himself a drink as well. “Sherlock,” John said, once he’d settled into the seat across from him, “Where did you get these clothes?”

“Your clothes?” Sherlock asked, although John was fairly certain that he didn’t actually need any clarification at all.

“Yes, the clothes that I’m currently wearing.”

“The trousers came from your suitcase,”

“And the jumper?”

“The jumper?” Sherlock asked, his eyes flicking up and over John’s chest.

John gave him a small nod, his eyes narrowing slightly.

“I bought it,” Sherlock said simply, taking another sip of his drink.

“I already had clothes, you know. You could’ve just grabbed something from my bag. Which, um, thanks for packing that, by the way.”

“Not a problem. The jumper is blue. Quite a nice blue, really,” Sherlock said, as if this explained everything.

“So you bought this because it’s blue then?” John asked slowly, still trying to work out the reasoning of the man before him. “Is blue your favorite color? Do you even have a favorite color? Never would have thought you for the type, but I…”

“Like your eyes,” Sherlock said, his voice filled with exasperation as he cut John off. “Designating a color as one’s favorite is so juvenile, John. Surely one’s favorite color would depend on the day, on what’s being represented by the color, on the emotional attachments, if there are any. So many factors. The jumper is nearly identical to the shade of blue of your eyes.”

John felt the air rush out of him in one swift moment. “My eyes,” he uttered, his voice ringing with disbelief.

“Yes. Blue. Due to a low concentration of melanin in the stroma of the iris. You’re a doctor, John, surely you were aware of the reasoning behind eye color.”

John rubbed at his forehead and gave a small nod. “Yes. Yes, I am aware of why my eyes are blue, thanks. That’s not what I was…” he looked up at Sherlock’s bewildered expression and his words fell away into a smile. “Never mind. The jumper’s nice, Sherlock,” he said, after a moment. “Thank you.”

The corner of Sherlock’s mouth twitched upwards ever so slightly, but he merely pressed on to the next topic. “I’ve just had an extensive conversation with your mother.”

John felt his eyebrows jump upwards on their own accord.

“Well, she talked for the most part; I listened,” Sherlock continued, “Or feigned listening, rather.”

“That’s rude, Sherlock,” John said, quick to keep him in check.

“I did try to listen,” Sherlock insisted upon seeing John’s frustration. “Even when the discussion turned to mindless small talk, I tried to listen.”

John felt a sudden rush of admiration for the man before him. He was trying. Sherlock Holmes was trying. Even at small talk. And God, that was all John could ask of him, really.

“It’s fine, Sherlock. What did you talk about exactly?”

Sherlock’s brow furrowed and he looked away from John and back to the cup on the table in front of him.

“Sherlock?” John asked, his voice rising in slight panic when he imagined all of the things that could have been said. “What did you talk about?”

“I’m not sure I’m supposed to tell you,” Sherlock said.

John sighed and brought a hand up and through his hair. “Alright then,” he said, mostly to himself. “I can ask when I talk to her.”

Sherlock’s eyes met John’s again. He seemed… apologetic, sheepish? The emotions that played over his face weren’t usual for him. And as John held his gaze he was able to identify one more strong emotion, a look of doubt, which alarmed him.

“I’m not angry, Sherlock,” John said, leaning closer towards the detective.

“I know,” Sherlock said.

“Then what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Sherlock said, but his words were too abrupt, too short, even for him.

“I don’t believe you,” John replied, his tone just as stoic.

Sherlock’s eyes raked over John for a moment before he finally mustered the courage, or energy, or whatever it was that he needed, to speak. “Should we kiss?” he asked, his words methodical and precise.

John was forced to shake his head slightly in order just to gather his wits. This wasn’t what he’d been expecting at all. Sure, he had thought about kissing Sherlock all morning. Hell, he was nearly always thinking about kissing Sherlock. That’s what had gotten him into this… well, this… relationship, in the first place. But he hadn’t really realized that the thought might be playing at Sherlock’s mind as well.

“Do you want to kiss?” John asked, unsure of exactly how to respond.

“It’s morning and we’ve just woken up to a new day. I understand it’s typical for many couples to greet with a kiss,” Sherlock said.

John’s eyes widened only slightly at the word “couple.” He still wasn’t used to it. He still half-expected to wake up in an instant and find that all of this had been some crazy, drugged-by-Sherlock induced dream.

“We don’t have to kiss just because it’s typical,” John replied. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, Sherlock.”

“I don’t do things just because they’re typical. And I very rarely do anything that I don’t want to do.” Sherlock’s words were honest, John knew. Goodness, the man hardly even ate; he obviously didn’t do things just because one was “supposed” to do them.

Before John had time to craft a reply Sherlock had taken a stand from the chair, walked straight up to John, leaned low, and captured his face in his hands. He pressed his lips slowly, gently to John’s for just a moment, a moment that was over too quickly, and pulled away.

“There,” he said, his face still close enough for John to feel his breath on his cheek.

“Good morning, Sherlock,” John said, unable to contain his smile any longer.

“Good morning, John,” Sherlock replied, his own lips curving upwards as well.

As soon as they’d been having a moment, it was over. Sherlock was back in his seat and back to directing his attention to the paper.

“Well,” John said, feeling the need to break the long silence. “Suppose I’ll go talk to my mum then. It’s nearly time for us to leave. I should give her a proper farewell, make sure everything really is alright here.”

Sherlock gave a small hum in reply. John stood from the table and started to leave the room but stopped abruptly when he heard Sherlock call his name from his seat.

“John, do you have a favorite color?”

Sherlock was standing now, as if he meant to leave the room as well.

John didn’t have a favorite color. Or he hadn’t, at least. He’d never been the type to choose just one. He liked most colors. Or maybe he disliked most of them. He’d never given it much thought. Either way, when asked by anyone else, he probably would have replied with a simple no. But with Sherlock standing before him, for whatever unknown reason, an answer popped straight into John’s mind.

“I like purple,” he said, before he’d stopped to think about it. “I mean, uh, dark purple. The royal sort.”

Sherlock met his eyes. He seemed to look right through him, before nodding slightly, turning, and going back upstairs without another word.

It was only once he’d left that John realized that Sherlock had been wearing a purple shirt. A dark purple shirt. A royal purple shirt that had accentuated each and every muscle on his chest. A dark purple shirt that made him appear to be more of a god than a man. Some perfect sculpture that couldn’t possibly be real. A dark purple shirt that pulled so tightly against his skin that it made John’s heart skip a beat just thinking of it.

John reveled in the thought of the shirt for a moment before composing himself, and walking to his mother’s room. He gave a small knock on the door before entering.

Karen Watson was sitting on the edge of the bed, a book of photos propped open in her lap. She looked up with a small smile as John entered the room, but said nothing. John shut the door softly and sat next to his mother on the bed. Over her shoulder he peered at the photographs. Family photos from the past met his eyes and for several minutes he was silent as his mother flipped through the book and he became lost in his childhood.

When she flipped to a faded photo of John as a child, large grin on his tiny face, standing proudly next to his father, his mother finally broke the quiet of the room. “You look just like him, John. You always have.” Her eyes glittered with emotion but she didn’t shed a tear as she looked up at John.

“I really can stay, Mum, if you need me to. Say the word.”

“No,” she said quickly, shutting the book of photographs and setting it down in the empty space beside her. “It’s time for you to go home. I’ve told you, I’ll be fine.”

John pursed his lips and looked down. “Alright,” he said with a sigh. “Good. Just, please do call if you need anything. Anything at all.”

His mum placed her hand on his shoulder and smiled. “I’ll be fine,” she said again, giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “Are you leaving this morning?”

“I suppose so. Probably should be getting back to work. Listen, Mum, did Sherlock… say anything this morning? Anything, uh, not good? If so, he’s just…”

“He didn’t say anything bad, John,” she interrupted. “Have a bit more faith in him. I think he’s more capable of handling himself than you assume.”

John raised his eyebrows and gave her a doubtful look. “Yes, if you say so. What did you talk about?”

“You,” his mother replied, her voice oddly cheerful.

“Sorry… me?” John said.

“Yes, you. Well, I just told Sherlock how lucky you were to have him, and, you know…”

“Do I?”

“I thanked him, for looking after you all this time. Properly thanked him.”

John let out a short huff of laughter. “Trust me, Mum. I’m the one who looks after him. He can’t even buy his own milk at the shop.”

“I’m sure he helps more than you know,” she said.

Oh, he did. In many ways. John felt his face turning red and he cursed himself for making any sort of sexual innuendo in the presence of his mother, even if it was only in his thoughts.

“I can’t believe it…” John said, looking at her in disbelief. “He’s got you properly charmed, hasn’t he?”

“He’s got you charmed, too,” she replied, a smile playing on her lips.

“God. He really does.”

Their eyes met in a moment of unspoken understanding and John stood from the bed. “Our things are already packed,” he said.

His mother reached out, enveloping him in her arms and pulling him close. “Go home, John, darling. Be happy.” They embraced for several seconds before stepping away.

“And you call me if you need anything at all,” John said, trying to sound forceful so to cover the wavering of his voice.

“Of course,” his mum said with a smile.

John gave her a final, lasting smile before leaving the room to say goodbye to Harriet. Their exchange was quick. After all, Harry did call often. They both promised to call if they needed anything, keep in touch better, and try to meet up more often. John knew the promises were empty. They always were. He and Harriet had never been the type to meet up for casual outings. Nonetheless, he hugged her and smiled, and acted as if he couldn’t wait to see her again, just as he always did.

Once Sherlock and John had loaded their bags into Mycroft’s car, they were left standing outside the house, unsure of how to proceed. John gazed up at the home he’d once known so well. Funny now how different his home was. If someone had told John as a child what his life would be like now, he would hardly have believed it, but this was life now. And he wouldn’t change one second of it.

John glanced over at Sherlock who, instead of looking up at the house, kept his stare fixed on John. “Are you ready to go?”

Sherlock lifted his eyebrow slightly. “Are you?”

John gave the house one last look, let out a breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding, and turned back to Sherlock. “Let’s got home,” he said, reaching to take Sherlock’s hand in his own.

“Home,” Sherlock agreed, tightening his grasp on John’s hand.